3/13/2009

Kissing through the glass does not excite me!



This blog entry is inspired by my recent visit to Sydney. So, there will be a few images to illustrate my encounters with the Land of Oz and moments this visit created. The Aussies have a way with their language and manage to be very earthy about it. It seems that if the can't find a better, and a more kosher way of expressing themselves in public, they just simply put an XXXX in it's place. One wonders ...

The Rocks, a made-for-tourists and not so Bohemian harbor attraction will attract you with many art galleries, billboards, and creative street art. Clever, simple, yet in-your-face sort of stuff. The city center provides a flashback of tradition and a mixture of cosmopolitan brand of Britishness with exotic ethnicities, all best expressed in the 19th century Strand passage, the Queen Victoria Building [the Waiting for Godot-like line of commuters, below], and casual tone. It seems that once the businesspeople leave the the steps of their offices the ties must come off! 
 
 
In a "Statement of Design Intent for the Financial Times Millennium Bridge Competition, 1996," the architects stated, that they "propose ... a bridge where sociality becomes the dominant practical purpose, a structure which allows and suggests the unhurried appreciation of the complexities of views and activities on both sides of of the river and on the river itself. ..." [Judith Dupre, Bridges, 1997]. I like this. This is saying that not only what happens on the bridge, but also underneath it provides opportunities to consider and appreciate. That's what I saw to explore of the Sydney Harbour Bridge by going below it. To walk on it was simply too expensive for the obvious experience and exhaustion that it would offer. 


People in in love. They are everywhere. I saw a couple in Brasov [see the previous blog entry] and Sydney offered a couple of couples immortalizing their union and joy digitally. These are cool moments and an opportunity to intrude someone's high moment for your own benefit! 




The Sydney Opera House needs no introduction, and it's sail boat-like design and aesthetics enchant as one of the architectural marvels of the world. The people of Sydney are lucky, and good on them! Among them are my friends, Pat and John Banks, and their lovely family. Sitting in the shadow of the opera's walls, or in the heat of a sunny Summer day made me appreciate how Australian this architectural marvel is, and how proud they all are of it!



While in Sydney, I reflected on something that is occupying my thinking these days: the reality of the virtual in communication. I've concluded that I am still waiting for my own tipping point. Let me explain.  A little note in the February 11 British daily Independent caught my attention. It was reported that coffee, chocolate and Facebook are the most common addictions in the UK. It was based on a poll of 3,000 people under 30 conducted for a livingTV addiction show Rehab. These current vices have replaced (they said ousted) favorites such as drugs, sex and cigarettes. 

Well, I am not ready to get addicted to ... Facebook. Not yet, anyway.

Isn't it enough to be part of the human race itself? Plenty to cope with in our real common predicament already. The proliferation of social networks and their impact on our lifestyle is staggering and defies imagination of what it will still evolve into. Yes, it's cool. Yes, it's useful. Yes, its popular. And yes, it very virtual. I am using bits of the virtual like everyone else [this blog, ha!]. But I am not quite ready to accept a notion that social networking provides basically virtual handshaking, as one successful and real businessman put it. I somehow worry about confusing the real touch, and the culture of feeling that we all need, with the authenticity that the virtual seems to offer. 

OK. Here are the figures - MySpace has a 125 million users worldwide. If it were a nation, it would be the 11th largest. Facebook jumped from 12 million users in 2006 to 175 million presently. What scared me was a statistic I heard that in no-time one user enlarged his circle of friends by one million. That's crazy. Frankly, I still prefer to have a real one non-digital friend to dialogue with me without the virtual authenticity. And besides, a garden offers nature's bounties. It will always beat the output of any virtual moment. [Dedicated to John Smith, a real friend from Southampton, who made me think when he challenged my passionate defense of virtual communication. Cheers, John!]

2 comments:

  1. Facebook, twitter, etc, are phrases that for me carry a certain degree of frustrated discomfort. There are three types of contacts that are generally initiated via facebook:

    1. A friend/acquaintance/business partner finds you and wishes to add you to their friend list
    2. A friend in your network wants you to join a cause, play an online game, or send you something silly to get community 'points', for no reason other than point acquisition
    3. A friend in your network communicates to the network about a recent accomplishment, change in status, or change in residence.

    The first of this list is always a fascinating phenomenon. Not too long ago I was found by a classmate from England. She added me as a friend and we started an interesting conversation - getting caught up was fascinating. Not too long after, as a result of being added to her social network, many other people came out of the woodwork! I have now been virtually reunited with former classmates who have moved as far and wide as south of France, Paris, Victoria British Columbia, and several who remained in the London area. Though our conversations were brief, we caught up on each other's lives. This was a truly exceptional experience - simply knowing that they are ok and doing well, plus the benefit of having friends in far away places should I ever wish to travel to those parts of the world.

    The remainder of the Facebook banter is annoying and distracting. Luckily one can configure which notifications one wishes to receive, and this is often enough to enjoy the benefits of reconnecting with friends, but without the mental noise associated with spending time voyeuristically living one's life through the comparative analysis of what others are doing. Still - the experience is psychologically interesting.

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