Thursday, January 19, 2012

Analog and other wonders...

Tuesday night we gathered at the barn. We were a gaggle of women, laughing, sharing a bottle of wine, seated around a small table with our electronic gadgetry, much like women before us had around a quilt frame.

As we sat and asked each other questions and learned about new apps, I smiled. Even though I relish the quietness of my nineteenth century existence out here in the boonies, I am amazed by the lack of contact we often impose on ourself in the very heart of the biggest cities in the world.

There was a time when ladies got together to piece together a quilt, build hankies and table clothes, night clothes and bed linens and to celebrate the marriage of a new bride. They would help make the things to go in her hope chest, things that she would use in later years to make a home for her new husband. Men would come together to build barns, plow fields, hunt and do all manner of manly things... It was a time of community building and celebration. If there were a more dire need, in the case of illness or fire, that too was a time of coming together to help heal, no matter how it shoved itself into our own schedules. It was a closer time than now.

Now, even though we are stacked on top of each other in the largest communities of all time, we seldom know our neighbors and we think the person brave enough to come knock on our doors to introduce themselves rather strange and forward. After all, who does that anymore? We think nothing of cultivating friendships online, never meeting each other face to face or sharing anything of importance, keeping it all very sterile and safe. We can sit at our computer, count up our followers or Facebook friends and deem ourselves successful at our interactions. Seriously?

There's a tongue in cheek phrase in the blogging world used to refer to time spent with actual humans. It's called "going analog." Getting out there, living in the moment, being present and relying on your eyes, ears, fingers and mouth to communicate someone's reality to you. Yes, peeps, they do exist, even if they don't have a blog or an online presence.

The digital world has saved my bacon more times than I can count. It keeps me grounded in what's happening outside my very small rural world. But the things that really count for me are the connections that don't necessarily have to "send", power up, recharge or post. They are the bottles of wine shared with friends, the moments in the saddle spent belly-laughing, hiking in the back forty and throwing the stick for our dogs. Moments that matter and inspire me to be better and to remain honest, connected by threads of palpable reality.

I can be anything I want to be online. No one ever has to know the reality of me if I choose not to reveal it. That isn't the existence I am after. I am glad for my true connections in the real world, the world where my floor needs swept and my relationships are messy. The world that holds my sassy kids and my grumpy husband, my filthy floor and my unmade bed may be more than you want to see on Facebook, but it is so much nicer than the cold light of my iPad in the dark.