A few months ago, my wife and I moved from our home of 11 years, and once again, I found myself in a brand new city with only remnants of contacts and friends-by-proxy.
This is not a sob story, though.
I have had the pleasure of living on both coasts, in small towns and big cities, and near friends and, well, away from them. I know people all over the place. Jersey, D.C., Atlanta (okay I know a lot of people in or near Atlanta), Florida, Texas, Wisconsin, New Zealand, Toronto, Arizona, Oregon, Washington, and even some people who frequent the South Pole. Seriously.
I stay in contact with a bunch of them (though not as often as we usually promise each other after a long phone call, but I digress), and I think that we take for granted that simple possibility.
Yeah yeah, I know that we’ve had phones for a long time. But I’m not just talking about, well, talking. I get to regularly see friends’ kids’ pictures, listen to my friends’ new music, and see their faces on a computer screen as we talk. If you stop and think about that for a second, it’s pretty amazing.
I think that we forget sometimes just how amazing these applications of technology really are. If it wasn’t for social networking, I probably wouldn’t have stayed friends with as many people as I have, nor would I be able to game with people who I don’t live near anymore. Those personal connections, even though geographically strained, are eased by the ability to beam information into space, where a satellite takes it and sends it back down to earth to someone a thousand miles away, milliseconds later.
Seriously. It’s crazy. I have a hard time wrapping my head around it, even though I spend most of my days editing research that make science fiction look out of date. Hell, I still have a hard time understanding how we get into half-ton hunks of metal and hurl ourselves down highways at a mile a minute (which is fast. Have you ever tried to run a mile in a minute?). And we get so isolated from the reality of what we’re doing in those hunks of metal, we try to do other things at the exact same time (as if maintaining present speed, velocity, and trajectory weren’t worthy enough goals).
I left the office today to run an errand, leaving my phone at my desk. Yes, I felt the ringer vibrate my legs. Yes, I got that uncontrollable twitching that comes from leaving my precious in the office. And I’m okay with that.
It’s my magic space-travelling information retrieval unit. And it helps me keep friends.