Sunday, June 23, 2013

lol ttyl Part 2

     Sometimes, I turn into an angry-old-man-persona and get very falsely nostalgic for how good things used to be and how everything is deteriorating now. My essay about how technology is making interpersonal connection harder was very much that type of discussion, and I have to stop and remind myself at times like that that we as humans are rational beings; we wouldn't do something if it didn't have any upsides, or even if convenience were the only upside. If you talk about what you have lost, you must stop and consider what you have gained as well.
     Have you ever written someone a letter? I think the single biggest differentiating factor between older communication mediums and modern mediums of communication is time. Time to write a letter, time to send it to someone or wait until you see them and can hand it to them, time while they write a response, time until they send you their response or wait until they see you and can hand it to you or respond in person. Maybe this amounts to time to wallow in your emotions, time to angst over what is happening on the other end of the line of communication. There's a definite sense of vulnerability that is required and emphasized by older forms of communication, a sense of having no control over what is going on with the other person. This lack of control, this vulnerability, I believe, leads to a heightened level of emotional or mental response one way or the other. I mean, imagine you sent someone a letter confessing your love for them: can you imagine how stressed you would be by the time the other person got your letter and responded to it and you got their response? If you got the answer you wanted, you'd be on the verge of euphoria; if you got the opposite answer, you'd be miserable.
     Younger people can experience this feeling too, in at least one circumstance; by the time colleges review and respond to college applications, possibly months have gone by. I had firsthand experiences with acceptance and rejection from colleges, and those were some of the most intense feelings both me and many of my peers had thus far experienced.
     So what does taking that much time out of the equation do? I think it gets rid of that vulnerability, to a certain extent, but increases reciprocity. It turns communication into a mutual conversation.
     For example, in the love letter example from above, imagine if you had revealed your feelings over Facebook; the ability to tell someone you love them for the first time and hear back that they love you too within minutes doesn't lend itself to erecting barriers between yourself and the other person; it rather turns that admission of love into a mutual discussion and reassurance. If you told someone you loved them and had to wait for days before you could hear back from them, you're likely to do anything to manipulate the situation in your favor; if you wait forever to hear back from colleges, you're likely to hang your self-worth on whether you get in or not. When the response is immediate, the emotion is closer to the reality of the situation, and it gives you a CHANCE at happiness. Immediacy lends itself to honesty. I believe that older forms of communication, while intensifying emotions and thoughts and ideas and stuff and allowing you to maintain control (over yourself, at any rate) and present the you that you want to present, can very definitely erect a barrier between people; while you may be happier with the illusions that are inherent to the older forms of communication, I think they give you too much power to remove yourself from reality, which newer mediums of communication try to get rid of.
     Augustus Waters in The Fault in Our Stars by John Green says that "love is just a shout into the void." I think, generally speaking, all attempts to connect with someone else through communication is a shout into the void; I always picture it like we're all trying to climb out of own personal abyss, and maybe, if we try hard enough to make it to the top, and the person next to us tries hard enough to make it to the top, we can both make it there and actually reach each other and talk and connect. I think that, while modern communication has forgone idyllic extremes for lukewarm realities, it brings us closer together by creating a sense of immediacy and urgency that demands honesty with both others and ourselves, and this makes the abyss we have to escape just a little less deep.

Climb out of the abyss and connect.

- Adarsh Nednur

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