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Old 07-08-2010, 09:20 AM   #1
Join Date: May 2000
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Default Jennifer in Appleton has another article!
Jennifer Perry column: Connected or unconnected?
July 8, 2010

You never know where you'll be when you find out that you've died.

In February, during the Olympics, Gordon Lightfoot was driving to his office in Toronto when he heard on the radio that he had passed away.

This came as a bit of a surprise, though he did say later that it explained why they were suddenly playing so much of his music.

As so often happens these days, the (thankfully) false rumor turned out to be a case of Twittering gone awry. It's one of the negative aspects of living in a time where anything that happens anywhere gets reported worldwide within moments of its occurrence or non-occurrence, as the case may be.

I have not yet had to deal with my own demise, but I have experienced an inadvertent slide off the grid.

We had decided to switch our phone service to the digital package offered by our cable provider. This, we thought, in an ignorance-is-bliss kind of way, had proceeded without incident, and we were loving the phone service and the features that came with it.

Caller ID is one thing, but caller ID on the TV is something else, and I never tire of it, because I am apparently easily amused.

Looking back, I should have suspected that something was amiss when, a few weeks after the switch, I began receiving cheery "Welcome to the Neighborhood!" packets addressed to someone whose name is similar, but not identical, to mine.

But life went on until I found out that someone who needed to get in touch with me had tried to get my number from directory assistance, and was told that they couldn't have it because my number is unlisted.

This had not been our intention, so I called our cable/phone provider. After 15 minutes on hold, the young man who took my call looked up my information and then uttered this memorable line:

"You're not listed as unlisted."

I pondered that.

"So," I ventured finally, "I'm listed as listed?"

"That's correct. You're listed as listed."

"Then why am I unlisted?"

He put me back on hold for another 15 minutes.

We think the problem occurred when the information was transferred from the cable company to the phone directory.

To my phone and cable provider, I am me, and I am listed.

In the telephone directory, I am listed, but I am not myself.

So if you need to reach me and you don't have my number, you should probably just send me a message on Facebook.

Facebook, which I enjoy; Twitter, which I find ridiculous; and digital and cellular phones are all forms of communication that were unimaginable a few decades ago. (For me, they were unimaginable a few years ago, when I didn't even know how to reply to an e-mail.)

But here they are. And not everyone believes that's a good thing.

In his book "Eating the Dinosaur," Chuck Klosterman writes, "The benefits of technology are easy to point out but they do not compensate for the overall loss of humanity that is its inevitable consequence. As a species, we have never been less human than we are right now."

I agree with that. I also disagree.

It's true that time spent Facebooking, Twittering and World of Warcrafting is time not being spent interacting with actual flesh-and-blood humans at the coffee shop, the dog park, or over the backyard fence. Modern social networking can create a faux intimacy that may hinder or even destroy relationships in the real world. If you let it.

I believe that ultimately, the experience of being human comes down to what it always has the choices we make and the ramifications of those choices.

And it's also true that technology gives us opportunities to enrich our lives in wonderful and completely unexpected ways.

As an example, I wrote an article a few years ago about my fondness for the aforementioned Mr. Lightfoot. It was discovered online by a woman named Char who has been living a life in Ontario that has in many ways been almost eerily similar to mine. We began corresponding, and she has become a good friend in the real world as well as the virtual one.

A few years ago, it never would have happened.

That same humble little article found its way to the office of Gordon Lightfoot himself, the same one to which he was headed when he learned that he had died.

And because of that, on March 30, 2008, at the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center, I had the sublime and surreal experience of hearing Gordon Lightfoot tell the packed house how much he had appreciated my article. Or, as my son Matt said to my husband, "Gordon called Mom out!"

There's really no way to describe what that was like, except to say that it's all the affirmation I should need for the next hundred years or so.

And by then, death probably will have found me, even if I am unlisted.

Jennifer Perry is an Appleton resident and Post-Crescent Community columnist. She can be reached at:
charlene is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-08-2010, 12:09 PM   #2
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Default Re: Jennifer in Appleton has another article!

Originally Posted by charlene View Post
"That's correct. You're listed as listed."

"Then why am I unlisted?"
Too funny....
RM is offline   Reply With Quote

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