I recently got off the dial-up wagon for my home Internet access and onto the high-speed expressway. (It’s kinda sad, I know, but I work online every day and just haven’t felt the need to pay a premium to get online at home.) In one short week my world has shrunken in a dramatic way. These seem like small little things, but I have to say that they feel so huge. My life feels so different all of a sudden. Familiar voices are becoming closer in time and space.
I immediately tuned in to KEXP radio station in Seattle, which sends me back in time to my previous life in that awesome city. I have been listening constantly and am getting inspired again by music, something that the local radio stations in LA have failed to do for me. There just is no substitute for listening to John Kertzer’s selection of traditional and contemporary Ghanaian music.
I have also been able to hang out with two great friends who live in far corners of the the globe through Skype. When I say ‘hang out’ I mean just that. These are not mere phone conversations. It was almost midnight in London and a hot, dry Sunday afternoon here in LA, when I chatted lazily with S. She was sleepy and I was lethargic. We had many moments of silence— those kinds of moments hanging out with friends when you don’t have to talk, but just enjoy each other’s presence. Late last night I was also hanging out with T who is in New Delhi, India. It was lunchtime for him and I could hear his housekeeper doing the laundry in the background, smacking the clothes against something to extract the dirt, “whack! whack!” I could also hear the peculiar street noises of India: honking horns, cow bells, wallahs walking by and calling out their wares. I chatted with T as he ate his lunch and fixed errors in the code for this company’s Web site. I don’t know why these conversations feel so different from the phone. Maybe it’s the fact that their voices (and the ambient noises) are broadcast across my livingroom through speakers? Or the fact that I am not holding a handset while I talk? Or the fact that it is not costing us money—it only costs time—that makes it feel more leisurely than traditional telephony?
I am not sure what exactly it it, but I feel more connected to important experiences in my life. Spending time with good friends, even when they are 10 time zones away.