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More on being detached

Following is a response to Sam Negri’s observations on being detached from the contemporary world. It is from Bunny Fontana, a long time friend and anthropologist by trade who has appeared previously on this cyber corner.
Not only am I detached from the world of internet celebrity, but I seem to be detached from celebrity, period.  And also contemporary (last dozen years) fiction, clothing styles, and nearly the entire world of computerspeak (I can create neologisms, too).  It’s gotten so bad there are frequently allusions to persons, events, and objects in the daily comics — which I still read every morning out of a lifetime of addiction to what used to be called “funny papers” — that fail to have any meaning for me at all.  Likewise with TV’s standup comics.  Audiences roar with laughter and I wonder what they are roaring about.
    But I remain more bemused than bewildered by all of it.  And worried.  Worried chiefly about what’s going to happen with interpersonal relationships among people whose worlds have been principally “virtual” rather than real.
    On the other hand, I had a chance to talk with my 16-year-old granddaughter when we all got together on Father’s Day.  What she had to say gave me a glimmer of hope.
    The day before she had returned from a week long stint at something called a leadership retreat at Camp Tontozona in Payson.  As she and about 60 other kids her age piled out of buses at the camp’s headquarters, they were relieved of their cell phones and any other electronic devices they may have brought with them.  They spent the whole week without being able to watch TV or listen to radio; text, tweet, email, surface the web, etc. etc.
    Her dad said if I wanted to get in touch with her I would have to send her a letter, postage stamp and all, c/o Retreat at Tontozona.
    Here’s what I wrote:
Your dad tells me you have been committed for a short time to a lifestyle into which your grandfather was born and in which he spent the majority of his 83 years.  It was a time when people generally talked to one another face to face, using more-or-less complete sentences and whole words.  It was when we spent nearly as much time outside rather than indoors; when we connected to our surroundings in meaningful ways; and when we slowly grew into an awareness that we human beings are not the only living creatures on earth, but that we share a small planet with other life forms with whom we are all intricately connected.
Ours was a world without computers, cell phones, and television.  It was a world far less rushed and frantic, a world less inclined, as Thoreau said, toward “lives of quiet desperation.”  We used our imaginations and created our own entertainment, making toys as children, playing group games as youths, and reading, singing, and socializing as young adults.
We had time for reflection.
Your week is no more than a tiny blip on the screen of what will be your entire life.  I hope it will be a meaningful blip, one you will look back on with warm feelings in the decades ahead knowing you have shared experiences lived by your ancestors.
Much love,
Her short answer to the question, “How was your week in camp?” was, “It was a life-changing experience.”  And later she exclaimed, “I hate social media!”  And this from a teenager for whom the worst possible punishment was to be deprived of her smart phone.
So who knows?

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