Thursday, April 22, 2010

Staying connected

Today I’m reminded of Isaac Asimov's Caves of Steel series. In the second book, The Naked Sun, Detective Elijah Bailey and the humaniform robot, R. Daneel Olivaw, investigate a murder on a world in which people prefer to have no physical contact. People talk to their neighbors over some kind of vidphones. Why am I reminded of it today?

Today like yesterday and every other day this month and parts of last month, I'm confined mostly to my house and only venture downstairs a limited number of times a day. I have been laid out with a bulging disk in my back and subsequent muscle spasms and nerve pinches and pains. Going from working 8-5, running errands and doing my own writing, blogging and publicity in the evenings and attending meetings and conventions on weekends to this is a major bummer to say the least.

I'm hoping that the surgery the docs mentioned as a possibility will become reality. That's not the tune I was singing 20 years ago when faced with much the same condition. But I'm tired of being limited and now I'm disabled! No more! And yes, I've tried almost all the treatments you can name. I'm not looking for medical advice or sympathy here. I'm just using this situation as opportunity to discuss our dependence on connectivity.

I can remember complaining that my son lived on his computer and didn't get out and do things. Now it's me, though not by choice. I would love to get out and do things. Even the short walks I was taking are too much at this point. But, I digress. Now it's me depending on the internet for my social interactions. I'm also reminded of a movie. What was it? Where a woman needed help from a super-geek friend who she'd never met to defeat a powerful enemy. Turns out that though he had super cyber skills, he couldn't leave his chair and his only pleasure was living through his avatars in virtual realities.

A recent House episode showed a woman who blogged obsessively. She held nothing back, even detailing fights with her husband. She espoused the notion that you learn more about people through their blogs than you do when you meet them face to face. Not my blog, honey.

While the internet is no substitute for the real thing, I can't imagine going through this without having friends I can reach out to online. Even if I have insomnia, I can grab my Blackberry off my nightstand and there will still be friends posting interesting things on Facebook, either from distant time zones or because they can't sleep either. I also enjoy IMing with friends in other states. I'm lousy at keeping in touch by phone and snail mail, but love to stay connected online.

When I log in to Facebook, I'm connecting with my tribe. People I have something in common with. They're mostly other writers who totally sympathize when I post something like "My characters are not cooperating!" or "Doh! I forgot to take my own advice and torture my protag!" I may be stuck inside the same four walls for a while, but I'm not alone. And I can hang out at the cyber water cooler and never have to mention my back once. In the real world, that is the physical one, everyone I know asks me first, "How's your back?" I love that they care how I'm feeling, but I'm sick to death of talking about my back. I can go on Facebook and have the illusion that I'm just as able-bodied as anyone else.

I had to miss all Easter celebrations because of my back, but this Easter Sunday was also my daughter's birthday. Guess what she got for her birthday this year?

I couldn't be there for the birth, though I wouldn't have made it in time anyway(she squirted her out in 2 hours). But she brought her up to see us on Sunday. What a treat! And everyday she sends me pictures from her cell.

vote it up!


JeffLemkin said...

OK, you don't want sympathy, but dammit, I'm still sympathetic. We just weren't designed to walk on two legs, it appears.

Wonderful analogy. You reminded me of a story I wrote when I was in college (early Neolithic Era). Abstractly titled "Adrift in the Estonian Zeppelin Forest", it followed the doings of its lead character, a politician, as he struggled with personal and political crises. In this world of the fewtcha, politicians did nothing without consulting "feeds" - an immediate, electronically mediated aggregate of what the people voting were thinking and talking about. It's weird to see at least a bit of that happening today.

Take care, Ann - hope to see you @ BayCon. :)



Ann Wilkes said...

Thanks, Jeff. Yes, well there are those who look down their noses at science fiction, but then they're unaware of how many things around them that genre has inspired.

The information age is an amazing time to be alive. Things happen so fast because so much information is available to so many inspired minds and collaboration has reached new heights.

We'll definitely get our face to face provided my back will let me go. I'm ever-hopeful.