This is a re-post of a topic I wrote about this past April and was prompted by an event yesterday. Last night, I left work shortly before 9 p.m. and was almost home when suddenly I realized I’d left my cell phone at work. If something like this has ever happened to you then you know what I felt like next. Naked. And frankly, kind of panicky. It’s not like there’s pay phones on every corner in today’s world like there used to be so I could call the office and see if anyone was still there. What did I do? Turned around and went back. Of course, everyone had left. When I got home, it hit me. I, like so many others, are so used to the comforts of today’s technological wonders that we feel literally lost without them. So, here’s how I see it.
After I was released from the “Holliday Inn” in Elkhart, KS. two years ago, one of the very first things I did was to find my way to a computer. Being without any kind of “connection” with the outside world, other than what silly TV programs were being played by some of my fellow “mates” and the 15 minute window I had once a week where I was allowed “visitation”, meaning a phone call or personal visit, was HUGE for me, especially since being around computers every day for over two decades was an integral part of my life. Before I tell you about that, allow me to digress. The “Holliday Inn”, (please note the TWO L’s, not one) was what we “convicts” referred to our living facility. Reason being, the sheriff’s ACTUAL name was Justin D. Holliday. I’m not kidding. He became affectionately known to us as “Doc Holliday”, since D was his middle initial! I coined that one for everyone and we laughed about his name and his “Inn” quite a bit. When your freedom is entirely stripped away, save for the 15 minutes I mentioned earlier for a whole week at a time, humor becomes a part of your sanity program. Jail does strange and bizarre things to human beings and their minds I might add, something I’ll go into later…
Rambling on then, after I got out I got my first taste of the “net” again. I was STUNNED at what new information and tools were available after having ZERO connection for 5 1/2 months. I think back now and it astounds me what one can do on a computer in today’s world. Not only that, cell phones! Good grief, I never dreamed of the options out there and quickly got hooked on a Blackberry from AllTel with a 24 hour data plan. Talk about a kid in the candy store, I even learned how to “text” for the first time. That may sound funny to you but trust me, I was in a whole new world, and not just “upstairs in my head”, not having a drop of alcohol to drink in nearly six months, which, by the way, I can honestly say now was the longest I had been without alcohol to that point in my life but what I’m guessing was nearly 20 years.
And so began my connection with Facebook. Ahhhh, good ‘ol Facebook. Building my own profile, posting my first “profile pic”, my first status update, yada yada yada. You know what I mean, right? Remember your first “stab” at it? And now today, or should I say up until yesterday, I’m known as the “Facebook King” among some of my friends; Mr. Youtube for songs, “notes” for lessons I learned, pictures out the wazzoo, and on and on.
But, you know what? I’ve discovered something recently, which I’m sure you all have already. We are ADDICTED to being “connected” in some way; computers, “cells”, iPods, laptops, smart phones, “butt dialing”, Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, Youtube, etc. Shit, it never ends!! And I’ve missed out a bunch with that list I’m sure!
There’s not a day goes by, not ONE, when I don’t listen to “slacker.com” every night on my Blackberry, a free site for any kind of music one could possibly want for anyone with a “BB”, or “Crackberry” as many call it, since it’s so damn addictive!
The point in this whole diatribe about being “connected” in some way is this….I was sitting in the Dallas, TX. airport this past December waiting on my flight and was doing one of my favorite things in a place such as that, “people-watching!” For those who’ve never been to the Dallas airport, it’s one of those “international” hubs where you see everything. Every nationality, language, dress style, you name it, it had it. But always constant is the omnipresent and obligatory latest gadget, doesn’t matter who or where you’re from. Seems EVERYONE walking around or sitting down was either ON the phone, texting, listening to tunes on their iPods, “surfing” the “net”, doing business on a computer, and even video conferencing for cripe’s sake! So, as I was sitting there “doing my thing”, I noticed a distinguished older man next to me, probably oh, 65-ish, nicely-dressed, and happily typing away on his “lapper.” Across from him I quickly came to discover, sitting 6 or seven feet away, was his wife; very sophisticated-looking, nicely dressed, and looking all proper. Hell, the two of them could have been from Kansas for all I knew but they looked like freakin’ royalty.
Me being me, that is to say, the NEW me; the one who talks in the elevator while everyone else is standing there like statues looking at the lights blink from one floor to the next, as if they had anything better to do than TALK for crying out loud; the one who is famous for “talking” with those “self-checkout” ladies at grocery stores (try that some time, it’s hilarious! when the self-checkout lady says in her sexy computer voice, “thank you for shopping with us”, say out loud, in fact LOUD with a big-ass smile on your face, “You’re Welcome!”, look back at the people waiting behind you. They’re all like..”Whoa….is that dude stoned or what!?”); and so finally (there I go again) I says to the lady across from me in my most pleasant voice possible; ” What the hell did we ever do before all this connected “stuff” we have with us? TALK?”
And so off we went, we started TALKING. My whole point to this long-ass story is this. There’s a “disconnect” with being “connected.” People have lost touch with reality these days. No one TALKS to anyone any more. You know, sit across from each other and TALK; no cells, no ‘puters, no TV, no music, no nothing!
You know what I say? Get your ass off that chair you’re sitting in right now listening to me “ramble, gush, and spew” all over the place, turn off your damn computer, turn off your “cell”, turn off your TV’s, your music, your WHATEVER, go to your neighbor next door, knock on it, and say “Hi! My name is (fill in the blank), I live next door, and was just wanting to know if you’d just like to TALK, seeing how’s we’re all neighbors and all.” What do you think will happen? I’ll tell you what’ll happen, one of two things; the door will slam in your face or, if you’re a lucky man like me, they’ll “invite you in” to their world and you might, just might, find out you have something in common, and maybe even find a “friend”, not one of those so-called 200 or so “friends” you have on Facebook. Get my drift? Do you see what I mean?
So, I’ll end it with this as an example of what I mean. Today, while on break at paralegal school, I was “on my cell” checking messages as usual while sitting outside enjoying the sun all by my little lonesome. Dorothy sat down with me shortly thereafter, and she sits two tables in front of me in all my daily classes. She wants to become a paralegal as I do and today is the first day she and I TALKED in the five weeks of classes together. Guess who Dorothy is? Dorothy is from Buffalo, New York originally and moved here only a month or so ago like I. BUT, she knows all about Kansas. In fact, she is a huge Buffalo Bills fan, and one of her favorite football players from when she lived there? Steve Tasker, 1993 Pro Bowl MVP, born and bred Kansas boy, from Leoti, Kansas, 22 MILES from where I was born and raised. Yep, the same Steve Tasker I once saw on a basketball floor when he was a 7th grader, ( I was a hot-shot freshman basketball player myself!) all 4 feet nothing of him, running circles around everyone else like a darn waterbug.
Next time you’re in that elevator staring at those damn blinking lights, say “Hi” to the person next to you. You never know who you might meet because it truly is a small world out there…..