How Are You?

Dear J-

There was a fatality on the tracks yesterday after I’d completed my ride, so I wasn’t impacted but I followed the swirling mess of updates and chaos on Twitter. I’m not sure if it’s a feature or a bug still but the 140-character limit makes for a staccato rhythm of news and you end up having to put together a good mental picture of what’s going on and where. Put it this way: you have to. There’s no way you could sketch up a map showing how train traffic past Palo Alto got snarled up while they conducted their investigation and share that in the same time it takes to knock out a terse missive telling everyone when the trains are leaving your station, or if they’re even moving at all.

There are no easy way to communicate emotions, though; I’ve noted a distinct coolness between two of the morning riders. They board the train at successive stops and both work for Stanford, but while they were quite happy to sit together before and chat, the fellow who gets on at the later stop definitely goes out of his way to avoid the other. If there was only some way we could get over our pride and say in great blinking lights or something similar how we felt! Perhaps using words! I’m not making fun of them because I know that’s how I’d react — I’m not privy to anything more than twenty minutes of each day with them — but it’s amusing that I’d be willing to share various emotional outbursts via Twitter that I’d hesitate to say in real life.

theVet claims I have no filter when it comes to saying stuff in front of the kids, which is mostly true but arises from emotional distance. I’m wary of strangers making fun of me so I tend to be close-lipped when I perceive the relative social worth of preserving good perceptions of me. I’m not saying that makes sense — who cares what strangers think about you — it’s just how I’m wired, apparently. My family, on the other hand, are stuck with me, so it’s a festival of farts and questionable language once I walk through the door. Life online can have the same strange intimacy with anonymous strangers you collide with then spin away from as you read what’s being shared, though it all ends up being facebook-style cleaned up and packaged for envy, doesn’t it?

Mike

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