discontent #8. Fall 1999





Only Disconnect

Technology makes me less connected. Since I’ve gotten email I no longer write physical letters and I no longer telephone because I could simply draft an email. However I never do send email because if I answered everyone as soon as they wrote to me I’d never do anything else. When I do write, my messages have a hyper-chattey classified-ad-of-my-life quality, which then prevents me from writing anything in my journal because I refuse to repeat myself.

But since I’ve gotten email I’ve contacted people I’d lost for years: best friend from grades 8-11, former trail-crew partner, grad school pal who dropped off the face of the earth. We update each other in a flurry of confessional messages, and then I shunt them into the address book with the rest of my friends who I don’t write, call, or email. So email leaves me much less in touch with many more people.

Caller ID is another exciting new addition to the household that’s returned me to the age of the calling card--I find that I’m "not at home" to almsot everyone who telephones. If the ID box tells me specifically who is calling, I decide not to pick up and consider returning the call later. But if the box reads "Unavailable," as it often does, I never pick up, which means I uniformly miss calls from phone solicitors as well as from any friends or family who live out-of-state. It’s telling that the word "uniform" is just an "n" away from "uninform." As we catapult into the superconnected 21st century I’m faced with such a barrage of crap and with so many communications options that it’s easier to turn it all off and watch some more Fawlty Towers in peace.