I really did disconnect.
Vacationing with my family I was the lone holdout (in past years everyone disconnected, but it seems now the call of the unwild is stronger) and did not check an email, or go to facebook, or even turn on my iphone until I got on the plane.
I didn’t miss it. Like a recovering addict I was adamant that I would not even touch the stuff, for even a sip or a puff or a click would mean utter defeat.
A glimpse it was, a glorious revisiting of what it used to be like to live, just live. To be present. (I confess, I did bring my ipod, but only fired it up to listen to music, at night, in the dark). I read, I swam with schools of fish, I ate limey seafood and drank juices cold and fresh, I laughed and daydreamed. If I’d been doing the texting slouch I may not have seen that 6+ foot boa constrictor just slithering my way.
Returning home tired and just in time to see the last moments of 2011, it wasn’t until the next day that I sorted my hundreds of emails (no, I don’t say that to be arrogant, basically anyone who does anything online has about that many in eleven or so days), and mass deleted most of them, going through the others with efficiency, saving only the ones I wanted to savor. Amidst the noise I found a long-lost friend who found me via facebook (yes, I do love some things about being there), a few really interesting links and new year’s wishes from some I care for, but mostly it was just blither blather bla bla bla.
Somewhere in my meanderings I came upon a mention of a recent literary scandal which piqued my interest. It involved a barely legal aspiring writer who emailed a writer twice her age and offered herself to him, only to later meet up with him and document their encounter with every detail (and I do mean every detail), first with the man’s name and a very compromising photo, then republishing it as “fiction” with these removed. It took all of two seconds for people to figure out who this man is from the sea of details she left in (and yes, I did google him, looking at his smiling face and wishing him a way out of the miasma of overexposure). It was not just a story of their sexual encounter but of the extremely intimate words that were exchanged, emotions exposed, all of which she put out there in the name of art, this girl who remains tucked behind her pseudonym. Some defended her, with words about her “right” to talk about her life, even if this means puking it all over another’s. These are the things about the internet that I loathe, the way one person can cause such damage by revealing intimacies which should remain private. I love memoirs, I admire honesty and brave writing, but this is neither—nauseating that she did this and even more so to read the words of those defending her.
Click click, close the window. Stop to breathe and to remember some of the people I encountered during my time away from all this. In doing so I realized how far and deep, how wide the chasm is between their lives and the ones of these pop-up characters who live on my screen. And there I sit, somewhere in the middle, two arms outstretched, watching that boa flicking its tongue and deciding which way to go, back to the safety of the lagoon or over the wall and into the road.
Perspective is a wonderful thing.