by Dubby Riley
I'm using on-line software to compose this message because this computer doesn't have Microsoft Word. Search engines, public email programs, this blog and most social media operate by this kind of "cloud" computing.
Jo's analogy of two small children experiencing joy and her own blossoming relationships of old reminded me of my pleasure to reconnect with friends. We can all relate after watching kids have that bubbling elation. And to experience that childlike happiness by becoming reacquainted with long lost buddies sends me in the clouds, to a certain extent. A different sort of cloud perhaps...but there may be an actual connection.
The Ruskin class of 1971 will have its 40th anniversary reunion next year. Younger people may not have quite the wonderment we do about this technology and communication and access. Isn't it amazing? We search and compose in imaginary "windows" and within minutes, without leaving our keyboard, we find hundreds of references, dozens of related videos, connections to the arts and even tools to help us spell the words correctly.
We join this technology of communication with a phenomenon that is in its infancy--people directories. We generalize and call it Facebook but there are literally hundreds of them. They've been around longer but this explosion of use is just over a year old. People our age are in the fastest growing demographic. Why do you suppose that is? I want to suggest there is a reason.
Do 40 year olds jump up and down because of this convergence of media and connectivity? Don't know. I suppose some do. Do 60 year olds? Probably a few. But I've talked to enough of my old friends and I have a teenager in my house, so I can witness the cross section of attitudes about it. We older but wiser crowd don't take it for granted. Instead we're quite taken by it. And we're big users! The younger set can't imagine what we're raving about. Between texting on the phone and doing Facebook every night, it is just routine.
We went to Paul's Drive-In, they spend hours looking at each other's videos and photos. We spent the summer at Holiday Swim Club and they're being looked at by orthopedists for carpal-tunnel problems.
Although I'm glad for it, the best part isn't the technology but the opportunity to renew such wonderful friendships. I'm thrilled by friends I've made since high school but there is a particular magic to revitalizing childhood comraderie. We easily accept the value of blood relationships. What about dirt connections? Having spent formative years with fellow humans within a certain geology...could it be that we're tapping in to a true physical phenomenon, which wouldn't have happened except for this convergence of media? Are we like salmon, returning to a figurative "breeding ground," so we can frame a new direction for a world which craves peace?
Dr. Henry Jenkins of MIT has a theory called Media Convergence
"We are living in an age when changes in communications, storytelling and information technologies are reshaping almost every aspect of contemporary life -- including how we create, consume, learn, and interact with each other."
I suggest this bounce in our step, which Jo delighted us by the story of, may save us from what many scientist predict to be certain disaster. Human culture seems to be causing tremendous pressure on a fragile planet. And we're not alone in this discovery of long lost friendships. So let us jump and laugh and celebrate and invite others to join us!