The 90’s (or last chance to make the right choice or go down the road to total destruction):
I remember the late 90’s when I told friends of mine that if they ever saw me with a cell phone to my head—to go ahead and shoot me. I said “It’s all over if you see that, so just go ahead.”
I did have a pretty strong, gut feeling about how this way of living and communicating was going to impact us—-separate us, instead of bring us closer together; give us the sensation that we could (and should) be in communication at all times; assist us in developing a total lack of boundaries between all things. Well, maybe I didn’t know that part as much yet. But boy did we hit the jackpot on that one….
Once we lost the limitations of waiting to use a phone until it was available, or going to a location (ie: the other room, or a phone booth), in order to do so, and especially once we no longer needed to respect time zone differences, the boundary-less-ness began.
I had the same immediate suspicions of email, when that mode was initiated. Communicating by typing words into a silent black screen, an unresponsive, void with no other human actually there.
“This is not a real conversation” I thought. If a person is receiving this communication hours later or several days later, is in a completely different location, temperature, time zone, emotional state, and has no context for all of those things about my situation—how is this gonna go well?
I did like that I could communicate with my partner when he traveled to Europe that summer through this strange, immediate, free medium. But I understood even then, that this would come with a cost.
Now, reaching our friends, family and business colleagues through email, phone, text, video chat, and a whole host of social networks means—NO LIMITATIONS ON COMMUNICATIONS NEED APPLY.
Ooh….we made it past the whole Y2K debacle
Fast forward to the early 2000’s, when I and most people I knew were spending a lot of time on email and now managing much of our professional communications through this venue. That was when I also began a lifestyle that included staying up until 2 or 3 to finish certain administrative tasks like grant-writing, because now we were doing everything online and well, the work could happen ANYtime.
I was in my 20’s and working at least (3) independent gigs, while training and producing work as an artist, usually for myself and for another choreographer. That is when my lifestyle choices, including the dominant unhealthy one —and no, I’m not talking about a drug habit or anything of the sort—but rather, the overworking lifestyle— was heartily enabled, by the internet.
FF to 2020: the year of total de (re) construction
Fast forward to 2020, when many of us have become accustomed to or (for some of us bound to) administrative work—on computers.
Because once you teach yourself how to function online, how to self-administrate your own artistic work (in my case), how to write grants, how to manage and produce everything for your own business (even when that business is based in the embodied work, like dance and theater or education)—we’ve all been forced, progressively, over the past 30 years, to manage many details of our lives online. And our businesses, including direct service work, require many hours online to document and demonstrate everything we’re doing, from case management to food service, education, behavioral health, clinical and housing services.
Forced to exist in tiny boxes. And while we stare at the glare, we move our fingers rapidly to express all of what our full bodies want to say and do (or have said and done).
Meanwhile, smaller screens sit on the desk nearby the big screen we face, flashing, dinging and constantly vying for our attention, and within that screen a series of smaller screen worlds— containing and controlling our many windows to freedom and opportunity- be it Facebook, your bank app, favorite media outlets, calorie and body monitoring options or whatever kind of control mechanisms or forays into real and imagined life one could want or imagine. We can use our apps from wallet to camera to timer to social media to document our carefully curated. self-produced daily existence.
Right. I was right!
(and I am staunchly LEFT)
I think I called it. Right from the beginning.
Are we not in the midst of the repercussions of actual communication break downs, due to the fact that we spend so much time typing on screens, and perhaps oversharing about our latest meal, instead of actually talking with one other? And I mean like with those in the same room with us, or on the same block. How many of us actually know our neighbors and regularly talk to them anymore?
How many of us know where our closest sources of power, water, electricity are, in proximity to our homes? How many of us know how to respond (together with our immediate community) to a crisis?
NOTE: These are questions we ask and will answer as a part of the NETWORK project this coming year!
Ultimate Monitor with best display
In covid-times (yes, I think that’s now a thing) now more than ever, when our entire existence from work to social life to entertainment and culture has become relegated to the screen—WE NEED TO SIT UP (and lay down and stretch and roll around) AND PAY ATTENTION!
The human body and spirit are not designed for a compartmentalized, two-dimensional existence, taking place in small rooms (whether IRL or “breakout” rooms) and windows. Our life, our breath, our emotions —don’t fit into tiny windows and don’t like to be filtered through a 1/2 masked, 1/2 mast existence.
I’ve gotta jump onto my next Zoom meeting, then a Ring Central call for my department, followed by a Pilates class on Blue Jean (to fix all of my body issues, from all of my screen and car time and work place stress), and then a FaceTime with my family. So I’m gonna have to get back to this whole screen issue some other time.
EPISODE 2 coming soon.