stories

for the information age

 

Many of us are having unprecedented digital work, educational, entertainment, medical and communication experiences. While others are on on the frontlines, providing essential services.  

 

How we can maintain our humanity, awareness of our selves and others through this amazing evolution? After all, we must live. We must work. We must love. We must, from time to time, look up and see the moon, we must see one another. These bite-sized stories chronicle my efforts, both pitiful and successful, to keep the digital world in its place – as a fantastically powerful and useful tool rather than an all-consuming way of life.

 

My hope is that they help you do the same.

christmas motive - cross section of red

Updated: Dec 23, 2020


My life so far can be divided into chapters of longing. Longing for attention, for safety, for being wanted, for babies, for knowing something that cannot ever be known, like what will happen? Will I do the thing I mean to do? Will we be ok?


I now see my longing as an object. It is a thing I stow away in the top drawer of my bureau – the one with all of the trinkets in tangles – the mismatched earrings, my grandfather’s mother-of-pearl cufflinks, the rusted key to a lock I have lost.


Suddenly, for no apparent reason, I open the drawer and pull out the longing. I eye my reflection in the mirror as I clasp it round my neck. I look better with longing on – it becomes me, it is like the musk I used to wear, which is a perfume, but not a perfume – more of a warm damp sweet that hangs heavily, hungrily in the air. Longing makes my cheeks flush, puts a darting worry in my eye. Everything foolish I have ever done, I have done with longing round my neck – it dangles dangerous, stupid, elicit. It clings to my clavicle, catches the light and shimmers in hectic flecks.


But I am beginning to see that longing is a cheap souvenir, a knick-knack, a charm to put on. I can pry the clasp open and let it slide from my neck into my palm. I can open the velvet-lined drawer, and toss the longing back in with the rest of the junk I keep, but do not need.


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Updated: Dec 18, 2020


We are talking, laughing, nodding, pitching in to a communal hum. All of us. Together. Endorphins are being released with each I know what you mean, and this one time, and that's so crazy! Then it happens; one of us looks at her phone, begins clicking. One by one, our heads drop. Silence looms, and we are gone.

In real life, people can be tricky. Real people have opinions and lives, they interrupt and lose interest. But out there, in the electronic realm, everything is easy. Peering into our phones is like peering over the edge of the Grand Canyon -- it is vast and infinite and full of possibility. We stare at it and stare at it, transfixed. As if the thing we are looking at might magically fix everything. As if the answers were out there, and not right here, in the room.



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For years, my friend and I argued over the question of her mother's drinking. Did her mother drink so much because she was in pain? Or was she in pain because she drank so much? Of course, both things were true. But which of the things, we always wondered, was more true? Her mother did drink an awful lot. Sometimes she started at breakfast. And didn't stop until sleep came. We got some absurd satisfaction in trying to pinpoint the culprit. As if knowing would save her.

I often have the same argument with myself about technology. Do I feel anxious because I am on my phone so much? Or am I on my phone so much to distract from the boredom and anxiety I feel?