Monday, February 26, 2007

Are we insular?

Miss Conduct (a columnist in the Boston Globe magazine) was addressing the question of socializing at parties such as alumni brunches. She said that people "...shuffle the music on our iPods rather than tuning in to a radio station to hear something different. We shop online to avoid contact with sales staff and other customers. We learn about current events from radio...blogs, and magazines that reinforce our existing political beliefs. We customize our existence, choosing the comfort of the known over the shock of the new."


Quite by chance in that limbo after "24" when I was deciding if I wanted to go to bed, read, blog, write, or just continue watching TV, I caught part of a Fraiser I'd never seen (I was never a regular viewer of Fraiser so I wasn't surprised) with Elvis Costello, Felicity Huffman and John (Ah'm too saixy for H'America as my husband and I call him in Scottish burr) Hannah. Well I had to find out what that was about. ^_- Turns out that Elvis has been singing in Fraiser's favorite coffee shop driving Fraiser and Niles out in search of another. It led to quite funny exchanges about the absurdities of coffee buying (semi-colossal, colossal--how does that compare to a Grande?) and about how insular Fraiser and Niles are.

So I was thinking. Am I insular? One tries not to be, but we do flock to others who share our opinions and tastes. Having been more social this past weekend than usual I had great enjoyment on Saturday of meeting new people through old friends and discussing theater and then introducing a friend to another group of friends on Sunday and doing the same. But we are, for the most part a fairly homogeneous group. And what we do not share, we politely do not discuss. One of our group IS a Libertarian and that's led to some strange discussions. Most of the group on Saturday are Christians but not heavily into proselytizing. Even beyond that--is the Internet really just serving to help us form tighter and tighter circles of things we already know and like? As I keep going back to--most people I find in boards just want to shout their own opinions. And just think--just like a tune on an Mp3 player, if you don't like someone on My Space you can just block them! E.M. Forster (of all people!) wrote a "sci-fi" story about a future where we all exist in small mechanized rooms where every need is brought to us by machines and our protagonist visits his mother and tells her that he has visited the surface!
The Machine Stops. Looking at this entry I am startled by his prediction of TV, videoconferencing and the discussion of Secondhand ideas in 1909.

Well, this went in a direction I didn't predict when I sat down. When I read this story at 16 or so, I was afraid then of being someone who only discussed "secondhand ideas." I don't know if I'm doing much better now.

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