Originally posted on Posterous, April 27, 2012
Used to be, it was American Express you didn’t leave home without. Now, we travel as we live: bristling with gizmos. I’m lighter than usual, this time, packing iPhone and iPad, but leaving the MacBook behind—I’m sure I could hear it crying, when told it couldn’t go.
Technological advances, says the old saw, are making the world smaller. According to Google, it’s still just a hair less than 4k miles from St. Louis to Dublin, technojunk notwithstanding. A hundred years ago, I’d’ve made the crossing in a steamship; now, it’s a Boeing, probably a 767. (To those of you who’d STILL buy me a ticket for the Titanic….steerage, I’m sure!….PHHHHRRRRTTTT!!!!) I’m not thrilled about spending two weeks on iOS alone, but I can’t justify the weight and space trade-off involved in taking the more-powerful device. I DO like the thought of not being loaded down with film, extra lenses, and all the other old-fangled camera equipment—who really takes the time for serious shooting on a casual vacation? (Answer: not me.)
Both phone and iPad ensure that I’m not out of earshot of #2Son, alone at home for two weeks for the first time. He’s 20, so I could come home to a heap of smoking rubble, but it isn’t likely; he and his older brother are shockingly responsible souls. Besides, I have to keep up with several WWF wars….
Technology doesn’t decrease either the physical or the psychological distance between places and people, but it can, and does, give the superficial impression of doing so. It can, for real, but that takes work: getting to know another person, at whatever remove, takes time, attention, and effort—just as it always has, 3D. The obvious beauty of online life, and social networking in particular, is the opportunity to get acquainted with, and get to know, people you’d otherwise never have had the chance to meet. The serendipity factor makes it the more fascinating—meeting people who are friends of friends, or being cold-followed by someone who, over time, becomes a genuine friend.