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Posted by: Kim_Hamilton on 05/11/2009 09:42 PM Updated by: Kim_Hamilton on 05/11/2009 09:45 PM
Expires: 01/01/2014 12:00 AM
:

Where Cell-dom is Heard...the Call of the Wild~By The PineTree Pedaler, Brett Loring


by Columnist Brett Loring

MyFace…SpaceBook…Mugshot…whatever it’s called…Is it really social networking? I’m going to spin a slight twist here from my regular topics of health, fitness, and fun things to do in our area to address something that seems to interfere with, or replace those healthy, fit and fun things. What ever happened to meeting over coffee after a morning run…joining up with friends at the bowling alley…riding bikes together…playing hide and go seek? Last time I heard the word “social” it had to do with actual face-to-face human interaction, or at least voice-to-voice communication and real – not virtual - relationships within a community....


Speaking of which…who remembers dialing a rotary phone and the “brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrring” of the Alexander Graham Bell device that got its own shrine near the front entry door or on the kitchen countertop? If you’re younger than 29, you’re probably saying, “What the heck is he talking about?!” Well, in my generation that ringing phone was the first memorable physical separator of humankind and its peers. Now, cellular phones have taken on a life of their own. Like Cabbage Patch dolls of the past or Webkinz of the present, you can “personalize” your cellular device, even give it a name. There are “charms” to accessorize your cell phone, as if a phone is enhanced by jewelry! Or thematic faceplates, colored keypads, stickers, skins, pouches and bling kits! Like I want to pay even more than the phone itself and the monthly contract to play “dress up” with an inanimate object! What a racket! (The only reason I know all this is because we’ve now been to the cell phone store a couple of times in a matter of weeks to repair or replace my “screen-age” daughter’s phone, as we stood in line behind another screen-ager who needed to replace her text-taxed phone.)

Now I want to tell you about a call I got long ago, but not from a cell phone. Rather a call back to the wild. A place we’ve abandoned for love of technology and for a false sense of feeling “connected.” From my sociology class at Columbia College twenty-blank years ago, I recall the story of the “Nacirema,”1 a self-proclaimed highly-evolved, yet peculiar culture. The “Nacirema” were observed by a third party who tried to figure out what in the world the Nacirema were all about. The observer watches the Nacirema approach a porcelain fixture, perceived by the onlooker as a shrine. The Nacirema would pay countless visits to the “shrine” daily and each time would pat the shiny metal lever after each “offering” they made at the “shrine,” and the shrine would proceed to “swallow” the offering. As you decode the word Nacirema, reading it backwards, you realize who they are. (I hope I don’t have to explain the “shrine,” or “throne” as some know it.) A contemporary “Nacirema” story would depict wonderment at human creatures wandering through the market, head tilted to the dominant ear side, jabbering away for all the world to hear about what their husband, teenager, or boss said to them earlier that day. Or even more confusing (and annoying) is the drifting, chattering soloist with a Bluetooth like a giant primitive earring clipped to his ear. Anybody else start to respond to one of these tele-gabbers and realize they weren’t talking to you?

Enough of my telephonic tirade. Needless to say, my Facebook page remains face-less – virtually untouched, not even a picture of myself or a mugshot of my dog. Yet suddenly, I feel like I was teleported into a virtual class reunion as names from my past now pop up in my e-mail inviting me to their “page” where I can catch up on all they’ve been doing for the last 27 years. I have to admit, that part’s kind of cool. But as far as being “reachable” 24/7, I don’t carry or even want a cell phone. And if you loan me your phone to text someone, well beware because “I d.k. how 2 txt worth Bns!” Why just the other day, on a borrowed cell phone I tried to text my daughter a message but after spending 10 minutes composing two sentences, I sent the message to everyone on the contact list. Oops!

I submit that for those who may not be able to get out or to explore the natural world, being connected through technology may be a blessing. But for those who wander and bump into others as they text-type, and those who post every little personal detail about themselves, well… Oh wait! I’m getting a call…“Whoosh! Swoosh! Trickle, trickle, trickle. Chirp. Chirp. Howwwl!” Sorry, gotta go! No, that wasn’t my ringtone. That’s the sound of getting a call from the wild – there’s a trail to explore. There’s a stream to follow. There’s an adventure to be had in the great outdoors…That’s the real “MySpace” for me! Stay “networked” with me on Mondays for stories of adventure and places to see and things to do in our own great Calaveras County backyard. I promise I won’t twitter or text you, but will give you the real scoop here on The PineTree.net in plain English, human to human.

1From "Body Ritual among the Nacirema," American Anthropologist 58 (1956).


If you have any questions or comments for Brett, you can email him at Brett@thepinetree.net.


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