Daily Archives: December 15, 2009

Tales from Technology

Our world is simultaneously bigger and smaller than it was twenty-five and fifty years ago.  This is a tremendous benefit to grandparents and writers.

Last night my Middle Son had a music concert.  Week night events are nearly impossible for grandparents to attend.  My parents are three hours away and DH’s are four.  Not an easy, hop-in-the-car jaunt when the musical event is sandwiched between two work days. 

Had the concert taken place fifty years ago, our parents likely would have been living in the same town or even the same house as us.  They would have had no problem attending a week night event.  Twenty-five years ago, they might have been a town or two away.

As technology has advanced, so has our mobility as a society.  Now-a-days, we judge proximity by states not miles. 

Yet last night, an amazing thing happened.  Our parents did attend the concert.  Our school is in the infant stages of webcasting school events.  From four hours away, DH’s mom nudged me via a text What is he wearing?  Is he next to the girl in the red dress?  Oh, I just saw him speak!

It was magical to share our lives from so far away. 

And some astute authors are cashing in on this magic.  They have begun virtual book tours and blog tours.  They speak at events through webcasting, chat on the phone with book clubs or discuss topics online via chat sessions. Connecting to a wide range of people is limited only to an author’s  imagination and determination.

All this technology has expanded our global reach.  We can be the guest of honor on a blog in Australia.  We can attend a school visit in Europe.  We can “chat” with authors and readers from one coast to the next, all from the comfort of our home. 

Yet as our world expands, it also shrinks.  Technology takes the miles away and brings our family, friends and loyal readers from states away and puts them back in our home towns and right into our living rooms.  We can connect on a personal level despite the distance. 

With this magical new world comes greater responsibility.  As writers and as humans, we need to be hyper-conscious of the ease of technology.  We need to safegaurd our relationships.  All of them.  I think technology could easily replace personal relationships.  It could become so comfortable to web-cam from home to home that the urge to visit and be visited diminishes.  After all, why bother with the inconvenience of travel when it is easier and more cost effective to boot up the computer?

As technology becomes the norm, we may be able to attend events without ever really showing up.  Which is fine if you would prefer Aunt Maud to spill her cranberry vodka on her own carpet while you said quick hellos from across the room continent on Christmas morning. 

But what about writers?  My worry is that, unless we are mindful, technology can create a chasm between writers and readers.  It would be rather easy to revert back to the smoking jackets and hermit-like ways if we can sip our cranberry vodkas while “speaking” to a room full of kids.  This valley could become an uncrossable canyon in terms of knowing our audience and really connecting with them.

Do you feel that technology enhances or detracts from a relationship?  What concerns do you have about going “virtual”?