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"Keeping My Distance"

This week's article isn't about what some may anticipate. I keep my distance from her not because I've lost interest, but because I refuse to punish myself by spying on such beauty. This week's garbledegook of words, however, centers on something completely different...

Nothing on me beeps. I have no tapes except those which go in my stereo. I share the voice phone line with my roommate. I never had the inclination to get a cellular or car phone.

That's right, I'm an e-mail type of person. I think you can identify personality types by what modes of communication they choose to open themselves up to. Now don't get me wrong -- I haven't been thinking about this for very long. In fact, most of the ideas for my articles come up as I write them. Like this one. But as I was saying, you can break down the different methods of communication into personality types.

Regular phones are the norm for most people. Most people require a phone to get anything done when they need to call friends or settle questions immediately. The most anti-social person in the world and the most extroverted person in the world rely on phones, I'm sure (Tibetian monks and technophobes don't count).

I'm not sure what I think of answering machines. I guess I'd want one for the same reason I like the laid-back pace of e-mail, and it bugs the Hell out of me when a friend of mine doesn't have an answering machine and I have to keep calling and calling... Answering machines, in my opinion, must be for both extremes, lazy or busy types, and that's it.

Snail mail is a given for most people too (even the Unabomber!), but I don't like it. Unless I'm sending actual material, why should I pay to have a note trashed and tossed around in various mail trucks and airplanes when I can use e-mail?

People who have cellular and car phones scare me. Obviously they don't view their personal spaces or their cars as private places which shouldn't be violated. When I had my car, I certainly didn't want anyone to call me! I want my music loud so it can cover up my poor singing. People with cellular and car phones take leaving oneself available to the extreme. They can't wait until they get home, apparently. They need to get attention -- they need to know when someone wants to talk to them. Now, we had a cellular phone, but we hardly ever use it except for emergencies and figuring out where people are. We used it for its pure utility, not for anything else.

Many scientists who study dreams say we don't remember many of our dreams. This would explain why I don't remember a dream where someone's cellular phone goes off in a lecture and I then bash the owner's head in with it.

People with beepers/pagers scare me even more. I look at pagers the same way I look at those big, bulky ear tags they pierce onto animals to track their movements. My roommate has a pager and he's a slave to it. He has to carry it around, waiting for it to go off, that one time it goes off... Hey, I try to be civil -- I try to decipher the pager code into pseudo-English for him.

So then there's e-mail. If there is a technological equivalent to looking out over a valley full of lush, dark-green trees while sipping pure water from a rushing stream, e-mail is it. I can send e-mail when I please and download/read my e-mail when I please. No etiquette about response times in e-mail, pretty much, unless you're dealing with a Netizen-wannabe who is really a phonephile. E-mail discussions are much more enlightening than voice conversations, as they're more structured and get to the meat of the issue without trailing off into a rant about how much salt is in each McDonald's french fry. E-mail is incredibly easy to manipulate, as you can forward one, reply to one, send a new one, etc. There is always a record somewhere of what you sent, so if you need to pull an e-mail from three months back to prove how much of a hypocrite someone is, you can. You can't do much about telemarketers on the phone, but you can forward such unsolicited advertisements to their postmaster and get them kicked off the 'Net. Ah, Heaven (I sure make references to Heaven, Hell, and the Garden of Eden a lot, don't I? It must be that religious brainwashing from our culture combined with the fact that I enjoyed Paradise Lost.).

So I'm an e-mail person. I have a very strict sense of where my personal space is, and I don't want any unwanted people or radio waves violating it. I see communication as something which is enriched by not forcing it. E-mail is perfect for this. In short, I am introverted and am busy thinking -- I don't have time to sit around with pieces of plastic waiting for you to call.

Feel free to e-mail me with your comments. However, keep in mind that I may respond in an hour, a day, a year, or whatever. It's all up to me.

...all up to me...

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