Thursday, February 11, 2010

communication gone wild

It's remarkably easy for people to reach me these days. That is, for everyone except my mother, who complains bitterly at how hard it is to get in touch with me. But, that's another story.

You can email me, text me, call me. Post something on my facebook wall, send a direct message, or post something on my fanpage or FLOW's. Contact me on twitter, either regular stream stream or direct message. There's google chat and then there's skype, both talking and instant messaging. People can comment on my blog. There's always talking to me in person. I'm a big fan of coffee dates. For the intrepid few, there's letter writing. I know some people who send holiday cards every year and I feel awful not responding, but without anything to go on but a street address, I'm flummoxed. Should my cousin Wayne ever come across this, hello! And thanks for always thinking of us.

I'm finding that I communicate with various people in different ways and am not a huge fan of crossover. In fact, it's a bit disconcerting to switch methods once a routine's been established. Some people are phone/email. Others are chatting on the corner after school drop off. There are people who are straight up twitter and I'm delighted for it to be just that. I'm loathe to cross pollinate—perhaps with the ease of availability, firmly established boundaries help me maintain some sort of bizarre equilibrium.

Where am I going with this?

Good question.

Innately, and I've written about this lately, I'm a very private person. Part of me is fine with exposing all, in certain forums and circumstances as long as it stays there: what happens on twitter stays on twitter sort of thing. The persona I am is different in different realms—all me but not all of me in one place. I expose most on my blog, and am still surprised people read and resonate. My twitter self is incredibly scattered, just putting out there what is in the moment. Facebook is more status conscious, wondering who, if any, will respond and what they'll say. I feel more visible there. Email feels retro at this point. IM'ing stresses me out - conversation often moving so fast it overlaps and you're talking at each other instead of with each other. I rarely rarely talk on the phone anymore and think that's my mom's issue. It's easier to communicate at my convenience. Selfish, yes, but it helps protect my soul when so much of it is bared in so many places.

It's hard, when people cross those lines, for me to keep up. I'm doing a talk at Rutger's in a couple of weeks and can't for the life of me remember what day of the week it is. This was a twitter/DM/email exchange and somewhere in the midst of gmail, regular email and all the back and forth between computers, and my iphone, I never marked it on my calendar. Usually as soon as something's a vague thought, I note it somewhere. Now I can't make other plans until I unravel this glitch I created. My bad. People I know, and adore, from twitter will be in town in a couple of weeks. I'm having trouble committing to plans. Real life communication is so different than quick snippets of encouragement, love, advice, input. What if the people don't live up to the personas? Another peeve: I can't stand when someone tries to contact me cross platform. The more places I'm pursued, the more I retreat into my shell. There have been times that I've gotten emails, phone calls, texts, tweets all from someone in a short period of time and I just shut. down. hard.

Every once in rare while someone crosses boundaries and it works. But it's hard to get to that place of comfort for me. Canada Dan and I were twitter friends—his skill with words often left me speechless and we'd get involved in these alliteration-offs that were ridiculous and sublime. DM-ing was next and then email. He had great ideas about marketing FLOW and wanted to help. But, the plunge to actually talking was fraught with indecision for me. I blew him off a few times, not sure that connecting in this new way would work or if it would, in fact, destroy the engaging relationship we had online. I found the whole thing nerve-wracking, but, one morning as I sat freezing in my car for alternate side parking, we chatted the entire time. And then, we did this strange dance of how to communicate, often tweeting first to figure out which method would be best. Was it IM-ing? Chatting? Emailing? Skyping? Once the back and forth of how was negotiated, we could officially be in touch. He moved recently and called me that night, to let me know he'd arrived safely. "Unknown" appeared as the caller on my phone and while I was thrilled to hear from him, it threw me for a moment. It was the first time he'd called without the terms of call summit beforehand. We'd apparently evolved past the conversation of how to converse.

And I think that's my point. Conversation has changed, mutated, evolved. People used to talk. And then technology provided new mediums to make it easier, negating the time and distance factors. Now, the possibilities are so endless sometimes I find it stifles connection rather than enhance it. When my inbox is overflowing, I walk away instead of focusing on staying in touch. I reveal less as there are endless ways to reveal more. Ok, that last statement was a bit ridiculous. I reveal plenty and I know it—I've been called out on it more than once. But, in some ways, I'm holding things even closer than ever in this ever-revealing world.

A communications dichotomy. That's where I am today.


Christopher said...

I am with you on this. I have very different personalities depending on where you find me. I use Twitter as a way to amuse myself and other people. 140 characters to be funny. It is tricky. Facebook is way more open and occupied by a lot of my family and former students. I try to stay away from anything to risky there.

My blog is the catch all. I like to write about my childhood and my troubles. It exposes me but it feels good to put it out there. I also like to write about nonsense and it will often find its way on to my blog.

I am glad to have found your blog. I think I read more now than ever in my life but it is not always novels anymore.

Amy Oscar said...

Me, too, Love. The more communication comes "at" me, the more of a turtle I become, pulling into my shell. Thanks for writing this. Totally resonates with me.

Has something to do with boundaries. The more fluid/dissolved they become, the more I feel the need to erect new, stronger, clearer ones.

Perhaps this is what the new technology will teach all of us: To define carefully, clearly just how far we're willing to expose ourselves. Maybe it will help us define who we really are.

Great post... as always.

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