It does seem that the world of interactivity is more and more a life of inactivity. If we are at our computers conducting our social lives, we are by definition NOT doing other things. We are sedentary, mostly passive participants in other people's dialogs. Trying to be wittier. Trying to be "seen". Trying to drum up larger numbers of "friends." So much of it is so highschool. And we're done with that, aren't we?
The blog is a little different. It's a way of recording what we're thinking. A way of sharing something with ourselves and with others. And yet, the exigencies of "real" life always take precedence. It's hard to do this with regularity when what really interests you in life, when you get right down to it, isn't talking about life but participating in it.
I was doing a freelance project a few weeks ago for Telecom Italia. It was a new business pitch and their strategy was to encourage Italians to use the internet. Italy is, for the most part, wired with high speed connections. But usage in Italy is lower than in Slovenia, which, when we lasted checked, was a "less developed" country. Italy is 27th or 28th in the world, if I remember correctly, in internet usage. So my job was to encourage Italians to spend more time sitting at their computers. More time writing emails and blogs and comments on Facebook. My actual job was to tell them that they'd be "missing out" if they didn't stop doing all that other great stuff they were doing (like actually spending real time with real people) and start seeing what "life" is all about online. Wow. Weird. I'm simplifying a complex argument, because yes, it's possible that being online more could help some people in remote areas economically, but let's get real: how much has it improved our lives? I think it's a serious question. And probably one that has to be evaluated on a case by case, very personal basis: how can I use technology to improve my day-to-day existence? Is it improving it? Is it damaging it? How do I really want to use it?
What it has given me is the chance to keep friendships and familial bonds alive. Living overseas was a choice I made in the era of digital connectedness. If it had been fifty years before, either I would have chosen to forsake love to stay with friends and family. Or I would have chosen to give up friends and family for a chance at making my own family elsewhere. Fortunately, I was spared that dilemma.
And being here with Janet, in this weird digital space, has been a privilege and a joy. I understand why maybe we should stop. But there's a part of me that doesn't want to. I'm not trying to make friends or influence people here; I'm just trying to participate in our own little experiment. But maybe the experiment needs to yield to new experiments. Other forms of dialog.
So what are we to do? I don't know the answer. But we'll all find out soon, won't we?
But maybe there's a clue in this stupid little anecdote: after Janet wrote her last post and asked me if we should stop, I wrote her back and said, "Maybe, but there's something I want to write right away! I'm gonna do it tomorrow!" Well, tomorrow came and went, and did I post? No. I harvested lavendar. And it was, I have to admit, satisfying in a way blogging never could have been. My fingers smelled of lavendar. The house was filled with its herbal perfume. And this winter, back in Milan, I'll make sachets for our underwear drawers. Hand stitched and filled. And every time I see or smell them, I'll remember this summer. Blogging assures sweet memories too, but it will never smell so sweet. —Charlotte