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Moats: Love, Work and Connectivity

01/13/10 5:55PM By David Moats
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(HOST) Commentator David Moats has been wondering why the age of instant communications has left him thinking about the past.

(MOATS)  We've all heard it. It sounds like an angry little rodent.

Mmmmmm. Mmmmmm.

It's the sound of a phone on vibrate. When that sound goes off, people jump. I had a young visitor over the holidays who was receiving text messages, causing him to leap up at random times, flip open his phone and scan his tiny screen.

I speak as one of the most unplugged, disconnected people I know, and so what I have to say on the topic of texting or social networks is not what you'd call authoritative. What I can talk about is life without texting or social networks, which still exists here and there.

How did we holdouts get to be this way? It goes to my theory that when we were kids we either read history or science fiction. I was one who read history. Either in fiction or nonfiction form, history connected me to our frontier past.

But it wasn't just what I read. Three of my four grandparents were born out West on the frontier. The frontier past was real to them, and it became real to us as we fished, hiked and camped in the mountains out West, imagining the challenges confronted by those who came before.

The challenges were physical. You had to look at the landscape and figure out how to live on it. You had to deal with people face to face. If you wanted to think about the world, you got your hands on important books - Lincoln had Shakespeare and the Bible. This left lots of time to think.

Recently, on a trip I was in a traffic jam on an Interstate, and I noticed the telltale posture of the drivers next to me.Their heads were down, and their hands were in their laps. They were texting. My one thought was: Doesn't anyone daydream anymore? A traffic jam is a great place to daydream, to have the thoughts you wouldn't otherwise have - silly thoughts, creative thoughts, useless thoughts, profound thoughts. How can you think if the rodent is buzzing?

Mmmmm. Mmmmmmm.

It seems the science fiction geeks are the ones who have conquered the world while we history buffs consider what went before.  Of course, life on the frontier was not just simple. Often it was boring, which is why people moved to the cities, where they could find other people and - connectivity.

I think Freud said life was mainly about love and work. Probably texting is mainly about love and work. As for me, when I'm in a traffic jam, I'd rather daydream, about love and work.

And now, on a cold winter day, I'm going to throw another log on the fire. Life, after all, is physical, electronic rodents notwithstanding.
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