The Communication of the Sacred and the Mundane
I’ve been corresponding with Eileen, a good friend from high school with whom I’ve reconnected. As it turns out we still share much in common and email has afforded a convenient mechanism for staying in touch and sharing amusing tidbits or a rant here or there. She received advanced notice about our upcoming 40th high school reunion (next year, that is) from the ad hoc organizing committee and asked if I was interested in getting information about it.
Without hesitation I responded to one of the organizers that I was friendly with back in junior high and began to get updates on what was being planned – you really do need to work on these things well in advance. Let me say for the record, by the way, that while it’s not something I would consider taking on, I do appreciate the efforts of the organizers and I’m sure that next year’s actual reunion will be interesting and I’m looking forward to it. I don’t recall the size of our graduating class (somewhere around 400) and I’m guessing the organizers only have current email addresses for about 25% of the class at this stage, but the email address list is quite extensive nonetheless and expanding… which gets me to the impetus for this piece.
In the few days since the most recent message about the plans for next year, I have gotten about a dozen secondary messages from folks who hit Reply to All to say, “Gee, thanks So and So,”, “Looking forward to finally making one of these,” “I second that emotion,” “I’m planning on it,” “Is the Cozy Nook still there on Park Ave.?” Blah, blah, blah.
Honestly folks, is this really necessary? I understand an inadvertent Reply All – we’ve all done it on occasion – everyone has occasionally farted in public too, … but all this chatter is of the premeditated variety. Yes, it’s nice to acknowledge the efforts of the three organizers but you can do that privately, thank you very much. When you are invited to your cousin’s wedding do you RSVP the entire guest list? Has everyone been Twitterized to the point that they feel compelled to tell the universe that they’re stuck in traffic at present but plan to attend the reunion next year. In the case of The Cozy Nook thread, there was even a Reply All to the question about its fate – in case you were wondering, apparently “it has been gone now for a few years- after closing it became a rib place that ultimately didn’t make it – it is now a successful restaurant called Geri’s with a pretty reasonable and eclectic menu – and Lido Deli is still there as well.” You can’t make this stuff up… Now, through the miracle of modern time travel, you can click here: (It Was 40 Years Ago Today) to read about how that reunion actually turned out.
And now for something not so completely different…In today’s New York Times there is a story about the current political uprising in Iran over the disputed election results and how Twitter is being used as the main form of communication amongst the protestors. A 27 year old U.S. State Dept. employee emailed the head of Twitter requesting that they delay a scheduled system upgrade that would have temporarily disabled the system because it was a vital form of communication both within Iran and in corresponding with the outside world during the crisis. The Times reported, “Tehran has been buzzing with tweets, the posts of Twitter subscribers, sharing news on rallies, police crackdowns on protesters, and analysis of how the White House is responding to the drama.” The Iranian government has successfully blocked cell phone and text messaging and has attempted to disrupt Twitter as well, but due to the diffuse nature of the internet, it is much more difficult to shut down web-based communications including Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, email, etc.
Communication of ideas is central to any social movement. During the American Revolution people read pamphlets, posters, newspapers and communicated directly, traveling by horseback (as exemplified by Paul Revere and many others) to spread the word. Current technology allows widespread and virtually instantaneous communication anywhere in the world and the impacts of the rapid communication of ideas are currently being felt and seen both in Iran and well beyond. If I were in Tehran today, chances are most of my messages would be of the Reply All variety, but back here in the U.S., I think a little e-etiquette is called for. And if this sounds a tad disingenuous coming from the editor of an e-pub that is scattered through the Ethernet seemingly indiscriminately…hey, guilty as charged.
The silver lining in this dark cloud is that Twitter found a reason to exist. – Bill Mahr