Social Connection

Dear J-

I think I’ve been reading too many teen weepy dramas lately when I can’t seem to sort out fictional drama from real life. There’s a lot to be said for the fun dramatic reveals (secret abuse! teenage pregnancy!) and the self-contained endings (well, there’s hope for the future, isn’t there?) but all in all I suspect I’d be better off with meatier books to chew on and digest. Meatier. Weightier. Because, you know, drama isn’t drama unless someone is crying by the end. Maybe I’ve been reading these many for so long that I can’t even distinguish the time I have for myself from the time I have for family; while it would be wonderful to be self-contained and isolated (yeah right) a person without attachments is like a computer without an Internet connection now.

I still remember when networks were something you had for fancy kids in dorms and email was a privilege. The first time I saw Jay Leno stream over the web browser in a postage-stamp-size blur was like magic. What is it they say, any sufficiently technologically advancement is indistinguishable from magic? I also remember the contempt I had for people who couldn’t program the clock on their VCRs (I remembered that particularly well when I was trying to set the time on our microwave this morning) and thinking I’d never let that happen to me. Sure, you bet. Just like that; pride goeth before a fall, right? Now there’s clocks embedded in everything, settings upon settings upon settings with definitions buried deep in manuals I no longer have.

Back to simple humans, though; we’re immersed in humanity here, much more than we were in San Diego where I wasn’t completely sure who our neighbors were, even ten years on; the only person who crashed our moving was a realtor, not anyone lending a hand. I marvel in a very real way at how easy it is for figgy to make friends at the same time I watched her struggle with the Chinese characters last night. I know what she’s doing, waiting for the other kids to yell out the answers as she pauses and hems with character recognition, because that’s a tactic I used. And yeah, it’s not fair: neither of us knows how to read Chinese so it’s not like she gets a chance to practice that, not like the other kids whose parents speak it natively, but you know what? That’s on me. I get home and I want to hand off the kids which isn’t the best tactic, nor is it good for their development either. We connect with people and what message does it say when I tell her to make herself busy without me?

Mike

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