Roxanne Tellier – I Hear You Knockin’ …

Roxanne DBAWISSo I’m trying to get some writing done the other day, and I’m in the Zone. The words are flowing, I’m typing frantically, and it’s all going so well, when suddenly … the phone rings.

Now, you may say, “Why did you answer?” You may say, “Were you expecting an important call?” But in actuality, when I’m concentrating very hard, I will often do silly things, whether it be answering a ringing phone, or opening the door to a salesman. I’ll forget that I’ve got some eggs on the stove, that have now gone from hard boiled to carbonized, or that I put the laundry in some three hours ago, and the sink has overflowed. It’s the nature of creativity, being in the moment, going with the flow.

distractingDoesn’t go over well with those who have to put up with your inattention to details, I’ll tell you. Oh, at first, people think it’s cute that you’re so focused, but by about the fifth time your roommate/significant other comes home to a smoke filled house and another pot fit only for the trash, it stops being quite so endearing.

And that phone call I answered? Apparently I’m on the call list of every duct cleaning company in Scarborough, as I NOJehovahmade the mistake of having our ducts cleaned fifteen years ago, when we first moved in. They are relentless. As are the driveway paving people who regularly knock loudly on my door. And those people that troll for suckers to sign up for a new water heater, and yes, we have our share of religious proselytizers.  It’s a constant stream of interruptions.

Working from home is both wonderful and awful, which can be judged only on a moment to moment basis. I am by definition the pet doorman, the one who’s around to take deliveries, make phone calls (since it’s not on ‘work’ time) and badly hold down the household fort. On the other hand, the lack of commuting is both time and money saving, not to mention less stressful overall.  I have worked, paid or unpaid, from my home for almost twenty years, and I love it.

One thing that has certainly changed in those twenty years is the way that our time and lives can be invaded. Back then, few people had cell phones, Facebook hadn’t yet been invented, and the Internet, as we know it, was mainly the stomping grounds for those involved in tech. We could buffer our world by using answering machines, or converting a line to a dedicated fax number. The post office responded to change by becoming a slightly more efficient business tool, and courier companies ruled the commercial world. But mainly, people did a great deal of their business either face to face, or on the telephone.

socialmediaToday, it’s a different world. There are dozens of ways to reach a target, and truly determined friends or salespeople will often use every tool at their disposal to get an answer, even if they haven’t completely organized the entire question.

It’s a particularly daunting way to communicate, and all of this access to other humans is prompting a special kind of frustration amongst the oblivious.  A longtime friend took offense with something I’d written in jest, and dismissed me from his life with a very nasty email. An online admirer, completely disregarding the fact that I was ignoring his messages, eventually became angry and threatening. Another friend, unable to comprehend the meaning of a comment without a face to face discussion, opted for a smear campaign against my character and abilities. And still, we take our opinions and beliefs and spread them out before the world indiscriminately, while complaining about the government invading our privacy. The government doesn’t need wiretaps – you’ve already told them all of your secrets in yesterday’s status update!

fbimaginaryWe have become addicted to an immediate reaction to our every thought. Like gamblers pulling on a slot machine lever, we expect a response, often just so that we can pump in another metaphorical dollar. Dedicated Facebook readers and writers know that they must announce their absence from the constant feed of opinion and information, or be thought of as rudely avoiding their “friends,” many of whom they have never actually met.

roxwith FarleyIn the background of our online world, there are streaming ads, requests that you join in playing online games, messages from people that want to take advantage of the naïve or unwary, and plaintive declarations of undying love based on your profile picture (which is often a photo taken long ago.) (Rox with Farley) Yet we slog on, immersed in this river of inconsequential ephemera.

Offline, I’m wondering what I’m missing online, and if anyone needs to reach me, or is trying to respond to something I’ve posted. At what point did it become not only customary, but integral, that we all be constantly available to everyone, friend or foe? When did I have to start apologizing for needing to take a shower, or do some actual work? And when did we all start assuming that anyone not jacked into the ether was either unsociable or a pitiful Luddite?

facebook-addictUnplugging from this non-stop communication is daunting; in the hours that I spend on a bus or GO train, without access to data, I try to read and research current interests, but there’s no rest for the addicted. Because that is indeed what this relentless search for information has become – an addiction as powerful, if not more powerful, than any drink or drug available.

Goodnight_HELLO_KITTY_WAVE-big45332And we not only condone this addiction, we praise and reward its addicts with our own comments and even more attention. We recognize that we are all willingly participating in our own slavery to an endless, torrential data stream, and we fear that to step out of this flow will mean losing some small bit of important data. Or that cartoon of those adorable kitties … awww!

We ignore current technology at our own peril. Anyone attempting to do business without access to Social Media will be left behind. Our society needs to be reminded constantly of our presence, or our best efforts will be swept away into a past that is increasingly irrelevant to those attempting to absorb every new advance in technology, the arts, or the sciences.

typewriterThe price we pay for that immediacy, however, is often a superficial overview, heavily manipulated by those who stand to make a profit on our lack of time and attention to detail. The buyer must indeed beware.

Maybe I’ll drag out the old Underwood, and pray for a power outage.

= RT =

Roxanne’s column appears here every Sunday 

Contact us at dbawis@rogers.com

DBAWIS ButtonRoxanne Tellier has been singing since she was 10 months old … no, really. Not like she’s telling anyone else how to live their lives, because she’s not judgmental, and most 10 month olds need a little more time to figure out how to hold a microphone. After years of doing things she didn’t want to do, she’s found herself working with a bunch of crazy people who are as batshit crazy and devoted to music as she is, and so she can be found every Monday at Cherry Cola’s, completely unable to think of anything funny to say, as the co-host of Bob Segarini’s The Bobcast. Come and mock her. She’s good with that. And she laughs. A lot. But not at you.

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