another luddite and a book recommendation

It’s been warm and sunny the past few days, and Portland’s turned from shabby buildings dripping with dirty water back into plant paradise. I always say Portland’s like a bad relationship: so beautiful in the summer you forget how very dark its darker moments are. If I were rich and weren’t busy using the money to do more important things, I’d summer here and winter elsewhere.
As a result of this blissful bath of warmth, light, and flowers, last night I decided to walk a mile over to the park and have my dinner there. That was a great idea and I’d do it again tonight if we weren’t having ladies’ taco night (don’t ask). I was sitting on the hill overlooking the playing fields, watching some women walk away from each other after playing a game of softball. Many grabbed their cell phones and started dialing as they were walking away. It’s hard not to think of a time without cell phones. We weren’t as connected, I guess. Or maybe we were connected in a different way. Maybe we spent more time thinking as we walked along by ourselves. Maybe we were more present with each other when we were out together. Maybe we needed that in-person community more because we did spend less time connected by our devices.
That’s what I can’t stand about texting. I feel like my choices whether or not to communicate with people who aren’t in front of me are diminished. I feel I have to be at beck and call, constantly looking at a device. I know some people like it…I have heard people laud it: “I’m so connected!” But I don’t feel that way. I am awkward on the phone and I don’t like the woodenness of texts. I like being able to ask people complicated questions and get a complicated response. I like picking people’s brains about the minutae they know. I like a back and forth for chrissake’s!!
I also like being able to let things go: email, text, or phone, because there is an appropriate time and place to do things like answer the phone, text someone, or read email. It definitely isn’t appropriate ALL the time, I think.
This post is ending up sounding judgmental and makes me feel like a cranky old lady. Oh well, maybe it’s time for me to embrace that old lady-ness. Yes, I want to spend my summer cell phone free, serving juleps on a front porch, reading, and playing board games, with walking and biking being my main forms of transportation. Yes, I was this much of a nerd when I was younger, too, although there might have been even more mind-altering substances and even nerdier reading material.
Speaking of reading material, everyone should read the Jon Raymond book: Livability. Tristan got it for me as a surprise gift! How nice. I posted the NY Review article about it. It lives up to the review. It really captures the feel of Portland. It’s definitely got echoes of other Pacific Northwest writing, too, my favorites being Ray Carver and Charles D’ambrosio. It’s that hollow feeling, the spaces filled with meaning, the dialogue a thin veneer for inscrutability. I love it! I’ve read half of it in a day and a half. I pity the fool who tries to pry me away from it tonight, as I read it outside in the sun!

One thought on “another luddite and a book recommendation

  1. before cellphones and texting there was more intuitive “knowing” used in life- just like now when you think of someone then you see them-then it happened more and people didn’t expect or insist on a call or a text- they just figured that -oh she must be reading a book, thats why she didn’t come over or call……….watch the show:” life on mars” ABC tv they nail it pretty well-

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