Do you remember that time? The time before ‘this time’ when we were somehow more free to be alone? If you are a young reader here – you won’t recall it, as it never really existed for you. Let’s see – do you recall calmly sitting at a bus stop after school waiting for your ride, and just staring out, maybe thinking about needing to call a friend from home so the two of you could pick a spot to meet at the mall, say the frozen yogurt stand at the food court or the bench beside the phone booths in the middle? And if your friend wasn’t there when you arrived you would take out that letter to your cousin that you started in math class, and finish telling her about the new guy you liked, but you couldn’t tell her to look up his grinning mug on facebook, or send her a selfie of you waiting for your bus home – still glowing with your crush on.
I’m not being holier than thou. I love, love, love my phone and all the way it connects me to the world. I tell myself to leave it behind on occasion, but then I quickly think– “Oh no Self, what if I need to take a photo, something that I immediately have to post to my friends or tweet to strangers? Come on. Really? I could send them one of the 628 photos currently in my magical phone? I wrote my book, Text Me, Love Mom; Two Girls, Two Boys, One Empty Nest when I realized with my kids going off into the wide, wide world I was feeling more than a little jittery. And then ca-pow, I managed, as parents do now, to be connected to them in a way that I was never connected to my mom. When I flew away to university and was terribly homesick for my big family, she splurged on pricey long distance encouraging phone calls, and we wrote letters that involved pen, and paper and stamps – and hey, if we could have texted each other (for free), I know we would have. So it isn’t that desire for connection that I am being slightly forlorn about today.
No, I’m reading a captivating book called – The End of Absence – Reclaiming What We’ve Lost In A World Of Constant Connection, by Michael Harris, a writer from Vancouver, Canada. Harris says, that “the difference that future generations will find hardest to grasp is the end of absence – the loss of lack. The daydreaming silences in our lives are filled; the burning solitudes are extinguished.”
He makes me aware that I am part of the last few generations who will remember that other time, a time when it was easier to hang out with yourself, to be alone and okay. Do you remember those days when if you walked to the corner store or the library it was just you, without a phone in your hand – or maybe you might have run ahead to catch up to a neighbor you spotted to talk to, because that’s how you ‘shared’, not by posting share? (Though of course, the irony is that I’ll soon finish this post and share it.) Will my four kids, who launched themselves in the world and at times ignored the tether of my cell phone – probably because I was bugging them like crazy, or they were up to deeds I wouldn’t approve of – will they recall the time when there was no little beep, beep and ding, ding in their purse or pocket, and how if they were out with a person, say me or their dad or each other, they were really just with them. Was there more daydreaming back then? Do they daydream between texting, and checking facebook posts and watching YouTube videos? Do I?
To read Text Me, Love Mom – the book – go to http://www.amazon.com/Text-Me-Love-Mom-Girls/dp/1771800712 or http://www.amazon.ca/Text-Me-Love-Mom-Girls/dp/1771800712