It’s December 25, 2017. The clock in the upper right corner of my screen tells me it’s 05:26 and I am not sleeping. Through the wall at my right side I can hear that at least one of my neighbors is. Deeply and forceful. After a wonderful Christmas dinner with a loving group of family members, `traditional´ Portuguese bacalhau dishes, fuckntastic Alentejo wines from a diversity of years, being deep asleep would make sense. Like everybody else in the house is. But I’m not. One reason for that is a fresh fentanyl sticker on my chest and about the other reason(s) I am not entirely sure.
Certain groups of synapses are running rings around some of the people that are part of my network. Deliberately, I am not saying people I know because as it turns out I don’t really know them. At least not very well. Between 2011 and 2016 I have spend time with them, with some quite a lot, trying – and failing – to set up businesses, winning contests, to make a buck, get noticed, being on the road for many long hours and days. With others I played music and/or got drunk and grew – either technically or as a human or both – and reached levels of which we did not think we were able of reaching those. All sounds great, and it was! I feel truly thankful and blessed for each and every moment, kilometer and (missed) note, every laugh and tear we shared. Which is why it is all the more painful that we don’t talk to each other any more.
How did that happen? When you look at human nature, there are roughly three groups of people: the ones that think this happened because they fucked up something without intending to, the ones that think the other(s) fucked it up and the people that simply don’t give a fuck and walk on. I happen to be part of all three groups.
Depending on the situation, the things that happened, things that got said that should not have been said or things that did not get said but should have, I either think it was my fault, think it was them or I just don’t care and move on. Any which way, I always experience some form of pain. I must be human.
Considering that all human emotions are universal – although we may deal with those differently, we all feel pain, joy, love and anger – it is safe to assume that I am not the only one feeling what I feel. I can not be the only one thinking about how we got to this point. And yet… We are not talking anymore.
The fact I’m thinking these thoughts while I would like to be asleep does not mean they are the reason for being awake. They could very well be the result. And there is absolutely no way of finding out. I’m OK with that. The painkiller has at least one positive side effect; it helps me practicing reflective writing. And the fact that it happens while most of my part of the world is sleeping? To hell with it.
Magic and Loss
Every relationship requires at least two persons to function. That is, if we are talking about people and not let’s say: the relation I have with my bed. Anyway, for the relation to function well, the persons involved will have to be actively interacting on several levels. Talking is of course a way to interact that is as old as speech and – if used truthfully – face to face conversation is the preferred method.
For years people have been writing letters in situation where that was not possible. This had of course the downside of waiting for an answer; depending on ones physical location and location on history’s timeline, the wait could range from a mere couple of days to months or in extreme situations even years. In Western-Europe, writing letters often got seen as a romantic activity, because of the waiting. Also, it was a form of communication that required certain levels of intellect and intelligence. Knowing that it will take considerable time to receive an answer to our letter, we want to be sure that we are precise in our writing. Using our language inadequately would lead to our writing partner receiving a message with a meaning other than we are trying to convey. As a result of that we would receive back an answer that would at the very least confuse us. All of this turned writing letters into an art. I know people who love to sit by the fire and read the letters that went back and forth between Russian dissident writers and their families or thoughts on the art of writing being sent back and forth between poets that died long ago.
Fast-forward to SMS, email, snapchat and whatnot, it seems we have gained a lot of ways to communicate but at the price of what? The art of being accurate? The value of a well written response to our question? Even worse than that, it seems we are losing the ability to understand written language.
That is to say, in the parts of the world where an always on internet connection has become the norm.
Most of us don’t realize it, but according to the “World Internet Users Statistics and 2016 World Population Stats”, as of June 2017, 51 percent of the world’s population has internet access. Not everyone of this fifty-one percent has a fast always on broadband connection of course and in many cases it means that people use a smartphone. Forty-nine percent of the world’s population has no access at all. They will still be writing letters, I assume. This means that not only there is a social division that is defined by having or not having internet access, but there is also a division between people for whom proper writing is important and people who write in abbreviations, some form of ShortMessageLanguage and emoticons. A while back I watched some self proclaimed internet technology guru argue that the replacement of certain (groups of) words and word combinations by some type of image would be inevitable. A new language would emerge from these divisions. According to this guru, who’s name luckily escaped me, it would even be desirable that parts of our languages will be replaced by images so we can all understand each other. Modernized cave paintings, as it were, but for everyone. Oh, the bollocks people think up.
Anyway, I digress…
Get over it
Whether it is because of the loss of attention, too many distant friends and terribly busy lives or the small screen the average phone provides, we are losing sight of each other and in the end there is only one thing we can do about it.