Sunday, March 29, 2009

The Technological Ties That Bind

I well remember how appalled I was when I first saw a young family strolling through a mall while dad listened to a Walkman with earplugs.  He was oblivious to the rest of the family and couldn't have heard them.  This was pre-iPod so you can't blame Apple.  I felt the same when I saw a young fellow conversing on an early cellphone at about 9:00 p.m. while his female companion got their ice cream alone.  What could be so important at 9:00 p.m. that he wasn't enjoying the moment with her?  It seemed that technology was destined to interfere in relationships.

When Twitter and Facebook came along, I signed up as an early adopter.  But what "friends" I had existed only online initially.  I didn't know I single one in "real life."  However, since last July that has changed.  My generation and, more importantly, my friends discovered Facebook, especially members of my high school graduating class and many local friends.  Now I know such mundane facts as whose having steak and lobster for dinner, whose mulching the yard, and whose on a field trip with which kid and where.  Some people decry this as banal.  It is pretty banal if you're following a total stranger on Twitter and know what they had for lunch, but it becomes the tie that binds when you really know the person.  Now you and your friends can carry on with your busy lives and still stay in touch.

It isn't all daily trivia.  Sometimes technology involves the most profound of life's events.  One Friday my wife called me on my cell phone and asked if I knew what had happened to a friend's husband.  This particular friend was the youngest sister of my best friend from high school.  We'll call her Dina.  Her brother, Don,  lives in Arizona, she lives in Georgia, and we live in Florida.  My wife had figured out something was going on because Facebook postings told her that Don's parents were in Georgia, his wife was praying, and other things were going on.  I got on the phone and soon found out that Dina's husband, Ralph, was comatose and in criticial condition.  A previously asymptomatic cancerous brain tumor was discovered the day after his 44th birthday and then he had two strokes during surgery.  His brother and sister-in-law set up a blog to keep everyone from California to Florida informed of his condition.  97 people became followers.  Checking that blog became a daily event for my wife and me.  Don also stayed in touch via text messages and emails sharing details.  Sadly, it did not end well and Ralph passed away leaving a young widow, and two small children who will never really know their father.  The blog remains with transcripts of eulogies delivered at his funeral.

As I told Don, if it hadn't been for Facebook, I would never have known about the tragedy involving Ralph and Dina until the next wedding or funeral or bar mitzvah.  Thanks to technology I could offer some small support at a time of need.

Don's not on Facebook, but he uses technology to stay in touch with text messages and emails.  On a lighter note, his most recent text was to alert me of Valerie Bertinelli's appearance in a bikini on the cover of "People."  You've got to consider that she's our age and we have crushes going back to "One Day at a Time."  Her marriage to Eddie Van Halen was a crushing blow.  What could America's sweetheart see in that funny looking little rock star? Valerie! How could you?  So having her on the cover of "People" in a bikini at nearly 49 is a big deal to us.  Technology really is the tie that binds.

1 comment:

  1. I have enjoyed your blog. I found it via gregfrescoln.. looking to reading more ;) You are a very good 'blogger' I'm looking forward to reading more.