Saturday, December 13, 2008

Making the ordinary "ordinary"

I was commenting over dinner the other night about how much more and how much more deeply my daughter and I communicate now that there is text messaging and Instant Messaging (IM). I pointed out that it seems we can talk about more substantive and sometimes even more difficult topics without anyone's buttons being pushed, ending the conversation right then if it had been by phone.

Well, I just got off an hour plus telephone conversation with Cece, who this morning finished no. 3 of 5 law school first semester finals in her first year of law school, and I have to admit that the "real" conversation definitely had its attractions. The main one is that we were able to cover so much more ground in a brief period of time. As fast as we both type, using text and IMs just isn't fast enough to cover the amount of ground that we covered in an hour-long conversation. Admittedly, it's been a while since Cece and I have had a long phone conversation. With her law school work load - it's the reading that is mountainous, I have been careful not to inveigh upon Cece's time too often and certainly not for the purpose of nagging as we mothers are wont to do from time to time. Otherwise, my nag muscles would surely atrophy, which wouldn't be a pretty sight.

The text messages also have been handy for communications between my husband and myself. Herb now lives and works in Washington state, the Tri-Cities area, and I mostly live and work in Colorado (rural Boulder County). For almost 70- and 60-year olds, we are undoubtedly an unusual modern commuter couple. We sometimes have specific bits of information to share with the other spouse - such as "Hard freeze this wkend; sprinklers blown out," and "FYI. Bought Batman Returns DVD." Those bits of data really don't warrant a full-on phone conversation or an email, but do need to be shared to keep the other partner updated. Other times, a text message delivers a wry comment about the small things that happen during each day - such as "Ugh. Hate going to DMV. Lines circling bldg," and "Waited 35 min. on hold 4 tech supt. Yr turn next!"

Herb and I find that texting, in particular, helps us to stay connected to each other's daily lives even though we might not see each other for another four weeks. It makes the ordinary, well, ordinary. In some ways, I liken texting to those nightly debriefs we used to have when our daughter was younger, when we would catch the other person up on the notable events of the day - you know, those lists that you recite to your partner so that all the adults in the household know what the kids have been up to.

I used to kid that I wanted one of the Dick Tracy 2-way wrist communicators, only I wanted mine implanted in my wrist. The Chung Kuo series of alternative future sci-fi books written by David Wingrove feature an implant in the head (brain?) that one can use to communicate in- and out-bound. I'm not sure about a brain implant, but really, how much further afield is that than a wrist implant?

I believe that it's important as one ages, which is, of course, inevitable, to avoid going the way of the dinosaurs. To me, that means making a sincere, serious and effective effort to keep up with new technology and new methodologies of doing things. Herb is an early adopter and finds and embraces new technology before the prior version has even had a chance to become outmoded. I'm a bit slower and find myself the inheritor of Herb's discarded toys when newer ones come on the market. I was telling Cece today that I finally got around to tinkering with the iPod that my brother had handed down to me, and I was so proud of myself for figuring out how to get my music CDs loaded onto it. When I turned it on to listen to the music, it took me several minutes before I figured out that there weren't any speakers on the iPod and that the only way to listen to the music was through earphones! Cece howled, "Oh, Mom!" But I'm trying! And mostly succeeding, very much enjoying the experiences.

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