– by Albert Berkshire
There was a time not long ago when I felt like everything was easy. Easy in the sense of being stress free. Carefree. The pinnacle of MaxiLife, as it were. Staying in touch with people was a personal endeavour, separate from the busy chaos of our work lives, and less formal. There were ampersands. And business was conducted in a formal and engaging way that represented our professional selves, yet reflected the relationships we had developed with our clients. Less ampersands. There was separation. Personal was personal and business was business.
Then came the email that changed how I look at life.
I recently wrote to a friend that I understood this whole Internet thing was supposed to make our lives easier. A consultant friend said to me over coffee the other day that he remembered the early days of computers and the Internet as the propellant of four-day work weeks for all! Yippie! When does it start?
Early Sidebar: I’m not claiming to be overworked. Goodness no. That would be completely uncharacteristic of me. I’ve seen too many people implode as a result of over indulgence in the work world. That’s not for me. I like life loosey-goosey.
I felt we could try shutting down the Internet for a week. Give us all a moment to cool down. I realize in Internet time, a week would be tantamount to a month, or a year, or based on the rate at which Google is eating up companies across the globe – a decade. Imagine that, I thought. Shutting things down long enough to reconnect with the things that are, well, the things that are.
In the pursuit of the things that are, or were, one friend suggested that her husband needed a step-by-step book on how to disconnect, citing that he needed to leave the 1991-Miami Vice cellphone-esque satellite phone home while on vacation. Of course she emailed this to me from a vacation stop. (good humor does require exceptional timing) I called her on this gross irony, but she ignored me, either failing to have stayed in cell range for the reply, or simply because sometimes Albert is just plain sarcastic and annoying. But I come by it honestly. I do.
So how about those things that were? What about the disconnect? What about the simplicity of life? What of this so greatly desired enigma called “Carefree”?
I’ve decided it is a silly myth.
Now there’s a phone that as a Facebook button that glows every time you take a photo. Don’t remember why you took the picture 0.0005 seconds ago? Oh! That’s right. I’m going to post it on Facebook so I can show the guy who sat across from me in Third Grade that I have a) a friend who is in the same room as me; b) a phone; and c) a life since we were assigned to separate classes in Fourth Grade. Thanks Mr. Flashy Button! You saved my social life!
Really? Is this were we’re heading in our form of communication and socialization?
And this brings me to the life changing email.
I watched a news documentary on CBC a few days ago about the billions of dollars spent each year by the US government on fighting terrorism. The presenter talked about these mystery government agencies that track, scan and decipher billions of emails and phone calls every day. And if I could inflate my ego to the size of the solitary pea under the Princesses’ mattress…
Wait a minute. What the hell was with that story? Who, other than obviously Hans Christian Andersen, would go through all the trouble of creating a character in a story and not give her a name? What’s up with that? Moreover, why didn’t Charles Boner or Caroline Preachy give the girl a name when they translated the story into English. Considering Preachy chose to add a pair of peas to the story (a gross embellishment of an artist’s work, tsk tsk) she could have taken the abomination one step further and given the princess a name. Let’s call her Winnifred_1959. Why not? (Your Google-Fu will help you understand the name. Yes. It’s a test.)
…I would like to think the emails I send or receive are that interesting that someone at America’s wasteland of waste, Homeland Security, would take time to read them.
But I’d never put a hashtag in my email to a friend in the hopes that the aforementioned email could spawn a hit in a search.
Really? You hashtagged your email to me? You should have at least thrown in a “great money making offer” while you were at it. That’s where we’ve gone. I don’t get enough spam. I have to have a hashtag in my emails.
There goes the carefree life I so wanted to enjoy.
There goes the wood stove in the shack on the beach where my pen was going to stain the paper with good old fashioned ink.
Albert Berkshire is a writer, producer and voice actor. He lives, writes, plays, and consults for clients on Canada’s West Coast. While writing this the TV was on, the mobile phone was “dinging”, two cats were looking for food, and he was seriously considering a long stay in shack with a wood stove on the edge of the ocean. The one without hurricanes. Escaping the norm has helped make his company, GreatCreative.Com, successful. For a much shorter, and less frequent rambling, follow Albert on Twitter @albertberkshire.