At the beginning of the year I finally bought a new phone. My previous gadget had finally ceased to be a phone worth having, it even became subject to any hot weather. As soon as the temperature was beyond 27 degrees it would suddenly switch off while I’m having a conversation and would do this until the weather became cooler. After a week of this I decided it was time to be a real modern kid and get a decent gadget one that would have the essentials of keeping up to date in an information obsessed era. I didn’t go the whole nine yards with a Blackberry so I decided on a pseudo-Blackberry, Nokia E63. It has all the basic essentials as well as operating like a laptop in the palm of my hand. At the same time I got a new laptop and I discovered that the cellphone and the laptop might as well be married. Anything I do on my phone I can simply send via Bluetooth to my laptop and vice versa. I also received emails as instantly as an sms but I eventually got rid of this option, being so easily available made me very uncomfortable. So I opted to downloading gmail onto my phone. And then there’s facebook! I haven’t embarked on tweeting yet but I can sense the urge is coming. One of my professors commented on this gadget when Letta Mbulu and Lira started singing from my bag as their songs are my ringtones. Walking in public has become uneventulful as I often spend time clicking away while on my way to campus, frantically trying to keep up with either facebook or demanding emails from the Mandela-Rhodes Scholars. I can catch up on other blogs I am following instantly and read up stories on the “My first time blog” about anything and everything many women have experienced (many of which are intimate), but I have never met them.
So with this kind of communication device I have been able to stay in touch with friends in Lithuania, Argentina, Mauritius and Australia. The world is in the palm of my hand. If I think of anything I can google it instantly and get an answer right there and then. Emails have replaced smses when I want to communicate with a large group of people. I am connected to people all the time often from the comfort of my bed. Strangely though, I am mostly alone despite being in touch with so many people in one day. I make new “friends” on facebook everyday often because they saw my profile picture in someone else’s list of friends or they read and article I wrote. I currently have over 150 but I don’t know that many people! Status updates allow me to read on what people are thinking about at any moment . And then there’s MXit! I can catch up with my sister and cousins all at once without sitting in my grandmother’s house like we did when were growing up. Everyday I get introduced to new abbreviations about how to ask someone how they are or what they are doing-hud=how are you doing, wud=what are you doing.
The paradoxes of this information age are crazy. How is it that I have access to this many people and can still feel so disconnected from people? I am far from home which means my primary community is far from me. Being at varsity, many of my friends have left but we still want to be in each other’s lives hence facebook. The prospect of falling in love has become complicated as I can easily swoon from an email the object of my affection has sent, but the reality is, I don’t know anything about him except what is in the email or the sms but I have to trust the honesty.
We (or maybe it’s just me) have become so desperate for friendships and authentic relations that we never question each other on the updates we have on our various profiles. We glibly accept that there’s a worldwide web etiquette or code of conduct that says be as honest and truthful as possible so we go along believing each other and we convince ourselves that we are making connections with people. Part of me buys into it because I have put myself out there in various platforms, even blogging. But part of me yearns for face to face chats, holding hands, cuddling on the couch, playing outside in the sun or wind or rain, sand between my feet at the beach, which is how I connected with people before technology took over. But who says I can’t do all that? Why not swap the E 63 for something less invasive and live the life I want to live? Because I want it all, modernity is part of who I am and I’m tired of running away from it, but that doesn’t mean I don’t envy hippies from time to time.