Thursday, November 03, 2005

The Golden Age Of Self-Esteem...
There was a time, of course, when keeping a diary was an altogether more private affair. You'd scribble a myriad of personal details, whether scandalous or mundane, on its pages, and would be mortified at the very idea of someone else catching so much as a glimpse of the contents. It would be kept at the very least, out of view, and usually at the bottom of a sock drawer or in the pocket of a seldom worn jacket in the back of the closet.
Now, of course, it seems like eveyone has a personal web log on display for the whole world to scour. Out of the closet (or sock drawer), our journals have emerged from the shadows and truly taken centre-stage. Not only do we open them up for public scrutiny, we practically beg for readership; adding links to the diaries of others and utilising keywords and search engines to attract more and more of these prying eyes in the vain hope that they might be remotely interested in what we had to dream last night.
Similarly, the act of making a phone call has taken a similar turn. In the England of my youth, the old phone booths were huge cast-iron affairs that when the doors closed, effectively became sound-proof. It all seemed to make perfect sense really; you got to make your phone call in solitude, devoid of outside interference, and more importantly, without the embarrassment of broadcasting your private conversations to anyone and everyone within earshot.
It all sounds awfully quaint now, of course. Public phone booths are fast becoming obsolete, as the general populace increasingly conduct their personal correspondence on cell phones with scant regard to where they are, how loud they're talking and to who may be listening.
As modern culture's obsession with self-esteem, self-empowerment and personal fulfillment leaves old fashioned ideas like personal responsibility and common courtesy in the dust, it comes as no surprise that the prevalent mindset of the day seems to be that we need to be heard,that we are important,and that we need to be reachable at all times.
Personally, I refuse to have a cell phone for several reasons. As it is I very rarely receive a phone call that is of any interest to me at all. I seriously doubt that my carrying around a designer cellular device with its very own irritating ringtone will translate to more quality conversation; quite the contrary, I suspect. Personally, I hate the idea that I can be interrupted by a ringing phone even when I'm away from home or the work desk. To be reachable is to be obligated. Besides, I really don't think that I'm that interesting. Why anyone should need to discuss anything of note with me is a bit of a mystery.
Of course, the main reason for my cell phone phobia stems from a fear of becoming one of the hordes of people I see daily; people who although they may appear to be going about their daily business at the bank, the grocery store, or driving on the highway, are doing so with a phone glued to their ear and conducting conversations seemingly unrelated to the task at hand. Their self-absorbed message to the teller, check-out clerk or fellow commuters would seem to be "You're not worthy of my total attention". If I become one of them, I have to stop being disgusted, and I'm not ready for that.
So, here I am, an old-fashioned prig; a phone-phobic card-carrying member of Luddites Anonymous, and I have a web log. Despite having mixed feelings about it, I realise that it is unavoidable. For far too long I've relied on my more tech-savvy brethren to help me muddle through. My friend, Don Moore, has done an incredible job of designing and maintaining my website, but I have to at least take responsibility for some of it. So from now on, this blog will be serving as my website news page. Consider it a small step on the road to recovery from my technophobia (no,I'm not speaking of my dislike of the alleged music of Moby; I'm sticking with that) and I know I have a long way to go. But, considering that little over a year ago I was scouring manuals looking for the "On" switch on my computer, I'm really quite optimistic about the future.
I'm still not getting a cell phone, though.

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