Archive for November, 2010

Digital Society

A man loses consciousness on stage in front of hundreds of students.  The response is immediate.  Students rush to Tweet and text the event.   The guy on the stage?   He’s unconscious.  And alone.  But not for long.  Here comes someone.  A Senior.  Look!  He’s on stage, approaching the prone man.  He’s… snapping a picture with his cell phone.

Ticktock, the second-hand travels the clock.  A pause.  The formerly unconscious man rises.  He’s dusting off his trousers, looking bemused, making a joke of it.  He’s okay.  Fingers fly across keys, Tweeting and texting updates.  The sense of disappointment is palpable.  The Tweetable moment has passed.  Back to the scheduled event.

It’s not far-fetched.  Something very similar happened when Bill Nye the Science Guy collapsed on stage as he was approaching the podium at USC last week.


They’re watching a movie side-by-side, eating popcorn from a shared bowl.  Wiping fingers on their jeans then tapping away at their telephones.

Buzz Buzz




The theater is quiet but pinpoints of light dot the auditorium as texts and Tweets fly back and forth.  Conversations and updates.  Talking without speaking.  The cyber communication never stops.


Cell phone in hand, I stalk my son at his birthday party.  The light is lovely.  He looks so handsome.  My husband jokes that my photos will appear on Facebook before I go to bed that night.  I glance at him in annoyance.  Not true.  Totally true. That’s exactly what I’m thinking.  I want to share the moment with everyone.  In fact, I am so focused on sharing that I am missing the moment.  I am a spectator at my own child’s birthday party, not a participant.

Back home, I sit at my computer uploading photos.  It’s late.  Past midnight and I have an early morning ahead but I’m not in bed.  I realize that I am becoming less and less present in my life.  I am connecting with people, yes, but from a growing distance. My husband is asleep in bed, alone.

Being somewhat reclusive by nature, I’d rather Facebook than see people face-to-face.  I can Facebook in my most comfy sweats.  I don’t have to make appointments.  I hate scheduling, so being appointment free works for me.  I can be in touch whenever I want.  I can log-off when I’m bored without an awkward good-bye ritual.  Facebook makes communication so easy.

More people know more about my life than they ever did before but they rarely hear my voice or  feel the press of my body in a warm hug.  Not that I don’t speak or hug.   It’s just that my words are typed.  And actually, I hug rather indiscriminately now  and kiss, too.


(((((hug ))))))

I hug and kiss people I wouldn’t have thought to hug or kiss before.  Thank you, Facebook, for the gift of remote intimacy.


For awhile I let my Facebook page go, but I missed it.  I love having a means to stay in touch with people I’ve met via the Internet, with family and friends I haven’t seen in ages.  I no longer write Christmas letters.  What would I say, for heaven’s sake?!  Everyone already knows everything.

Every now and then I go completely off the grid.  A lot of people seem to think it makes me flaky, wonky, weird, temperamental.  I feel bad for the folks who don’t get it, who can’t imagine why anyone would want to unplug.   It’s a digital society, yes, and I will incorporate it into my life to some degree but I won’t let it rob me of the moment I’m in.  Facebook is a tool I use, like a radio or microwave oven.

If someone collapses in front of me I’ll likely pick up my phone and call 911 but I will not Tweet, text or post a status update on Facebook.


Don’t stop hugging me or kissing me.  xoxo <— I love that.  Sometimes I can actually feel this:  (((((((Kate))))))).  And don’t think I’m judging your updates.  I’m just thinking.  As always, I love it when you think with me.


Barely Human

On television, she sees a story about two gay women adopting a child together and becomes incensed.   It’s bad enough that those women are lost but now they will lead innocent children to hell.  With all her heart she believes this.

Before you judge her, I want you to know that she’s not a bad person.  She’s actually a nice woman who bakes cookies for the school bake sale and volunteers at the local food bank.  It’s just that she’s been taught that God detests homosexuality and gays are sinners.

She knows that she will go to heaven, but they – the gays – will go to hell if they do not repent.

That sense of distance, of difference, allows her to hate but she doesn’t even recognize what she feels as hatred.  In her mind it is righteous indignation that she feels.   She tells herself that her motivation is love.  She desires to see a sinner saved.   In reality, a separation has taken place in her heart and mind; gays are no longer kindred.  An us vs. them mentality has crept in.  The love she professes to feel isn’t really love at all, its hatred wearing a mask.

You might even find the same woman shouting, pumping an angry fist, or holding an ugly sign in a crowd of like-minded citizens.  If you asked her she would tell you that she believes in love and kindness.  That she is taking a moral stance.  That she loves the sinner but hates the sin.



Across town, another woman angrily watches TV as election results roll in.  She is passionately liberal, believes in kindness, hates discrimination and intolerance.   As election tallies come in she realizes her side isn’t going to win.  She becomes  incensed. Those people are back in office; the ignorant, conservative, Christian haters and discriminators.  She can’t believe it.

On her way to volunteer at a homeless shelter she sees conservative political signs and Jesus stickers on cars and righteous anger wells up inside of her.  She flips her middle finger and sneers.   She doesn’t see herself as intolerant or hateful, not at all.   That’s the territory of fundamentalist Christians and conservatives.  She’s not like them.

In her mind there is a sharp divide between those she identifies as thinkers, those of her ilk, and those she identifies as the ignorant religious and selfish conservative.   She might even own that she hates them but she feels her hatred to be justified.  After all, those people are so hateful, so intolerant. In her mind, they are barely human.



I’m not pointing fingers.   I’m using stereotypes to illustrate a point.  Hatred is so easy when we forget about our shared humanity.  When we see ourselves as belonging to a group called “us” set apart from a group called “them”.

Suddenly we’re hating and we don’t even know it.

Mother Theresa said, “If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.”

I want to walk in the way of love and kindness.  I want to do better, be better.  But sometimes I forget how to love, just like you.  Remembering starts with recognizing our shared humanity.  That person you or I have a problem with – the person on welfare, the wealthy, the immigrant, the white man, the liberal, the conservative, the atheist or Christian…  they’re our kin.  

We need to love with intention.