The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

29 April 2006

At a safe distance

The irresistible (or so I imagine) E. M. Zanotti came up with this:

We live our lives in a world where we value impersonal contacts, where we hardly see each other, would rather post a comment on MySpace than take time out to find a person, rely on email more even than the telephone (by which I am all but unreachable), where technology, and every little isolationist temperment it fosters take precedence over human contact, toward a goal of efficiency, speed, and for the purpose of the Almighty Multitask.

What we're really seeking, however, is exactly what we've tried to eradicate from our lives: those messy emotional moments where we find comfort in the arms or words of humans. We are naturally social creatures, despite our desperate attempts to the converse. We've always needed each other for those basic carnal purposes, for misery that needs company, and for those deep, honest, superliminal connections that form eternal bonds. We've become so desperate for these things that we'll turn to nearly anybody with a willing ear and a welcoming smile: all humans ever want is a little bit of love.

This last sentence seems a bit pseudo-Harvey-Fiersteinish, and I'm not convinced we're all "naturally social" — you and I, or at least one of us, knows a misanthrope who positively revels in the role.

My own isolationist temperament, for what it's worth, is not motivated by speed or efficiency: it's simply a desire to keep everything, and everyone, at arm's length until the presumably far-off time when I can handle closer proximity. Since I'm not particularly good at that, I tend to give off mixed signals; and since I'm not particularly good at reading signals, I often can't tell whether I'm remarkably obscure or ridiculously transparent. Fortunately, it doesn't matter much either way.

Posted at 8:16 AM to General Disinterest


Oh gag.I'm sure she's perfectly sincere, I merely want to throw up. But then unlike the imaginary teens she is castigating on Myspace, I actually have contact with human beings daily, and thus have come to value "impersonal" contact. Why do I get the feeling that "Conservative Princess" was one of those students involved in every reach-out-and-touch-peepul organization in high school?

Posted by: Andrea Harris at 9:34 AM on 30 April 2006

...rely on email more even than the telephone...

I've actually become much more tolerant of telephone use since I got the wireless. Landline phones always rubbed me the wrong way, maybe because you had to be within a few feet of a particular spot to use it.

Cordless phones help some, but only by increasing the number of feet the leash extends. And although the answering machine was a godsend, I still have to go to it to get messages. Cingular voicemail is far more civilized; it's wherever I am.

Eliminating the external gadgetry entirely would suit me okay, if I still have the option of ignoring calls. But I could see me mistakenly ignoring an actual face-to-face encounter with a dear friend because I'm so used to putting off the incoming calls when I have something else to deal with.

We've come up with mail, e-mail, and voicemail -- us true anti-social types need "facemail" for those unexpected facemeets that we're just not in the mood for.

Posted by: McGehee at 3:33 PM on 1 May 2006

Oh, and us true anti-social types have a word for people who worry out loud about the increasing lack of human contact in modern life: amateur.

Posted by: McGehee at 3:35 PM on 1 May 2006