Saturday, September 09, 2006

Going offline

We are a multicultural family. Two of our four children are Mac devotees, two are PC users. I've been with Mac since I bought a 128, the first Mac on the market, twenty-two years ago. Now, like my two Mac kids (including Tom, of course), I own one of the new MacBooks...

...which happens to have a tiny built-in video camera at the top of the display.

With iChat software, this means we can have a video chat from anywhere in the world, assuming access to broadband. Every now and then my computer rings, and there is Tom or Mo, full screen, looking me in the eye.

It's unnerving.

I'm not quite ready for the always-connected life. It is rare these days to see someone without a cellphone on her ear. Text messaging, chat rooms, FaceBook, MySpace: I barely know what these things are. I've had a cell phone for two years -- for emergencies -- but I have never had an incoming call. No one has my number.

And now I have a "Buddy List" for iChat. Well, two buddies, at least, Tom and Mo, two people who can make my computer ring and see my mug. That's it. The list is closed.

Whatever happened to solitude? A walk in the woods without a connection to the world? Library stacks without ring tones? My space that was real space? Private space?

Whoops. Hang on for a minute. My computer is ringing.