The crash of Air Fance flight 447 on May 11, 2009 has haunted me now for two years. Over and over I have pored over the same articles, looking for a missed clue or detail. something to indicate what caused that mighty plane to plummet to its sea-bed grave. Likewise, I have gone over and over in my head what those final moments were like in that plane as it tried to make its way through a violent thunderstorm. As one who white-knuckles it with nary a tail ripple, I can’t even imagine what was going through the minds of the people on that plane.
In the relative scheme of the things, not much of that plane was found, and several subsequent searches yielded nothing. It was feared that neither the wreck, nor its black boxes, may never be found, perhaps swallowed into the savage underwater mountain range filled with miles deep valleys and crevices.
But efforts to find the thing became frantic as both aviation experts and flyers — fearful or not — were stymied over what makes a big, beautiful Airbus just drop out of the sky and disappear? Not to mention the fact that manslaughter charges are pending against both Air France and Airbus — charges that could perhaps be mitigated or dropped based on evidence about what really happened.
And so now, it has been found, and with its large, intact section of fuselage are the bodies of souls, still strapped in their seats, in a grave 2 miles underwater. Now the question arises: do we preserve the entire scene, allowing it to remain ensconced on the ocean floor as a measure of paying respect to its victims, or do we bring it up and analyze both the bodies and the wreckage to help solve the mystery of why Air France 447 just dropped off the radar screen — permanently?
I had two encounters within the last week that got me to wondering. The first was with a student in one of my classes. In a business communications class, asked thestudents how many of them had a Facebook page. As always before, I expected all 15 hands to go up. Only 14 did. Whoa! I was shocked. I zeroed in on the abstaining student, and he said he didn’t need Facebook, and he didn’t want Facebook. He relied upon, he ssid, conventional communication tools such as telephone and face-to-face meetings.
The second encounter was with a friend of my daughter’s who I inadvertantly ran into. Somehow the topic of Facebook came up and she offered that she didn’t have a Facebook page anymore. I was shocked. This young woman was the face of Facebook, and now she had obliterated her digital face and replaced it with her “real” face.
My question is now — are we looking at a trend or an exception, and if a trend, what does it mean? For some reason, I am excited and hopeful. Is this the blossoming hint of a society that might be returning to its basic, and oh so precious, roots?
As some of you know, I am committed to man who lives in silence. My “person” is what is called “late deafened.” He became deaf at the vulnerable age of 23 after a severe illness the cause of which was never determined. As he shared some of experiences with me, one stands out. Soon after descent into silence, he went to the infamous Gallaudet University in Washington, DC to learn the art of sign language. As you can imagine, this violent change in how he had to interact with his environment was traumatic enough, but one day while at Gallaudet, he approached a group of young people in the cafeteria with his tray in hand and asked if he could join them. They said no. He wasn’t “deaf enough.” He was not a member of often militant “Deaf culture,” an intense group of Deaf (with a capital D) people, most often deaf from birth and born to deaf parents, who eshew anyone who does not submerge themselves COMPLETELY into a world where American Sign Language( as opposed to English Sign Language) is the core of their communication and culture.
Now, ASL is indeed a beautiful thing to watch, along with the animation in action and facila expressions that accompany the actual signing. But the intensity of the culture’s animosity and rejection of anyone of deaf (with a small d) who does not embrace their “way of being” is off-putting at the least. Then enter the issue of the Cochlear implant, which has incited a veritable riot amongst the Deaf people. I have embedded herein a
that embodies the emotional extremes of both sides of this issue.
You do, admit it. You really, really, really want to write a book. Maybe you pine to write a memoir. Or maybe a “how-to collect and make beautiful things from sea glass” is calling to you. Perhaps you want to research and write a pithy account of your experiences going around the world. Whatever your topic is, the thought of the “doing” of it, the process of writing a book, is an undertaking of mammoth proportions. Or so it seems …
Guess what — it is not as gargantuan a task as you think, and I aim to tell you why, and then show you how — how to manage the process. Take a read about the course I am offering: So You Want to Write a Book. You can do it — you really can.
I read an article this morning in The New York Times that saddened me greatly. It saddened me from several perspectives. Maybe not quite so much saddened on this one as astounded: the rampant pace at which inter-personal media preferences are changing. Just five years ago email was the communication vehicle de rigor. Read on and you’ll find that today it is all about NOW — instant communication, instant responses, instant blurts in the form of instant messaging and text messaging. Even phoning is way down the preferred list. What does this all mean? Great philosopher that I am, (cough cough), I wonder about the long term effects on society and culture. Such instant forms of communication don’t set pathways to careful and thoughtful ways of interaction.
My second source of great chagrin is the loss of the language. Yes, loss. In the flurry of faster, faster, faster, words are abbreviated into private forms of shorthand that are even difficult to translate among seasoned users. Everyone, so it appears, has his or her abbreviated alphabets, thereby butchering what was once a uniform and magnificant language.
And so — we lose our ability to be thoughtful and we lose our language. Sigh. So speaketh an old, curmudgeonly English teacher.
Haiku — remember when we had to write them so many moons ago in grammar and high school? I used to love writing haiku. Now my head is filled with so much imagery and magic from solstice’s long shadows that the haikus are seeming to seep from the very cells of my brain.
OF THE SOLSTICE
Owl echo haunting
Winter’s early shadows show
Footsteps in the snow
I was having a conversation with a young man, a gaming addict all of 14, where the point of my discussion was to encourage pay-backs — but only in the positive sense. It’s like this I said to him, — this is no free ride. It’s time to start thinking about contributing to the world, to society, to life. Simply put , I told him, — you must earn our oxygen.
The young man looked up at me, bugged eyes at that phrase and I honestly didn’t have the slightest clue where it came from. But I liked it. I became quite impressed with myself. Face it, the phrase has panache.
Back to business. Think about it. Oxygen is no longer the pure, abundant natural resource it once was. You know the drill — pollution, volcanoes, more pollution, oil slicks, and even more pollution. We are screwing up. The world and her resources don’t owe us squat, but we have a hefty IOU mounting up in the form of destroyed and diminished resources.
And so — the days of being owed our oxygen are gone. Instead, I proffer that we find ways to, most aptly said, earn our oxygen.
I am flabbergasted. I didn’t grow up this way. I now live in a house where I am constantly sucking in what would otherwise be an explosion of outrage and frustration. I live in a house where the noises of faux sirens and screeching tires ring in the rafters. I live in a house where a 14 year old boy commandeers the only flat screen television. I live in a house where a child rules from the controls of his video games.
I don’t get it. I certainly do not deserve the medal for mother of the year for the upbringing of my now 24 and 26 year old children. But my children did not spend ten hours a day playing video games, or ten hours a day doing any one particular thing! My children also did not grow up believing the world revolved them, like this 14 year old child does.
I just read an article about the current generation of kids, I like to call them the Bit and Byte Brats. The article claims that “Unchecked use of digital devices … can create a culture in which students are addicted to the virtual world and lost in it.”
Now this is scary. But something makes it even scarier. What could be scarier? Enter parents who allow their kids to imbibe in a new kind of addiction. Parents who are afraid of their kids, afraid of the wrath of an addict without a fix, and afraid of having to deal with their kids in some sort of alien interpersonal way.
A month ago, I suddenly could no longer get into my five treasured, albeit oft-ignored, blogs here on WordPress. In a flurry of activity I had inadvertantly erased my old password and cannot retrieve it because the email address associated with my blog account is no longer active, and so —- get the picture? Poof — there went five years worth of meanderings, musings, and blog-manuscripts in one memory blip. Sigh.
The Lost Blogs: The Found Self
So now what? That’s what I’m working on trying to figure out. I feel sad, mad, excited, depressed, and a whole slew of other stuff about this blog thing. I have lost most of my virtual self. I have become a digital wisp, an invisibale stream of bits and bytes.
Hmm — — could it be that at last, at long last, I have found myself? The sweaty, stinky, flesh and blood version of the real self? The ground zero self?
My blogging self was out of control, not, like I said, because I wrote a lot, but rather, because I didn’t, and the reason I didn’t was because I had so many going that I never could really focus myself in any one direction or on any one thing. Now, if this whole thing isn’t a message for me, I don’t know what is …