Thursday, May 26, 2005

technology and tragedy

Even assuming that reincarnation occurs fairly regularly, it is highly unlikely that we will ever meet someone we knew in a former life. What with the constant turnover in cell phone numbers, however, it's fairly commonplace to find someone who knew your phone number in one of its previous incarnations, or at least thought they did. This happens to me about once a week, usually in the form of a call from a confused Spanish-speaking person, since I have a Miami area code.

This Tuesday it was a man calling from Honduras, trying to reach his father. Usually people just hang up after "No hablo espanol," but in this case he called me back twice, asked who I was. Things were getting emotional, even though the entire conversation was conducted in my dreadful attempts at Spanish and his equally limited English. There was definitely an aspect of "who are you, and where have you taken my padre?" I couldn't seem to answer this question in either language, yet I couldn't help feeling a human sympathy that kept me from hanging up the phone (I was also on night minutes, so it wasn't costing me anything). This man had something critically important to tell his father, and I had no way of helping him. Finally I did just have to say "lo siento, buena suerte, adios."

It made me realize how modern technology seems to shield us from human tragedy - armed with Google, it's much harder to lose track of your friends and family members. We haven't invented the search engine yet, though, which can permanently eradicate loss, disconnection, alienation. Sometimes it is even more painful to know that the ones you've lost are so readily findable - we have so many tools to reach each other by cell phone or e-mail, but we still struggle to reach eachother's hearts.


Anonymous said...

Speaking of using google to stumble upon things- i somehow managed to find myself at your blog. And i might add this is probably one of the best blogs I have seen. You are quite a good writer. Anyways, I hope things are going well. Orchestra hasn't gotten started up here at Rice yet so the school year is putting along. Soon though. Scotty D is here- he seems to be liking it- we haven't really hung out that much yet. Travis gore just had his last recital here before he heads over to your neck of the woods. Its too bad he has to leave. He's pretty awesome. But, im assuming you are still going to be at New world this year? You are going to enjoy having him in the section. Well, I will talk to you later. Good luck this year.

jory herman

Anonymous said...

Don't you think the technology that allows us to superficially keep in touch actually increases the loneliness and alienation? It seems the less educated folks, the Nebraskan farmer or villager from Ecuador know more about reality and true friendship.

Enjoy your blog.