I could very well as easily repeated what I wrote the other day today: I had planned to write some blog entries over the weekend during my travels, thinking that I’d have some down-time at some stage to be at a (borrowed) computer and compose something useful. Due to my devotion to Disciplina, I wanted one aspect of my practice this month to be to post something at least once a day on this blog–and while I know I probably update this blog a lot more than many pagan/polytheist blogs, still, keeping in constant contact with the world via this medium is a good thing, I think.
However, time was very short on the last two days, and what I was therefore the most interested in during that time was not in keeping up with (and interacting within) a virtual world, but in actually seeing the people I was with, spending time interacting with them as much as they felt comfortable doing so, and engaging in other manners with the environment and with the humans in it. (In fact, I just came from looking at some great blue herons on the east side of the island–wonderful!) Some of the people I saw are good friends about to do amazing things, while others were family that, despite living relatively close to one another and “being [literal and genetic] family,” I rarely get to see these days. So, they took precedence, at least as far as I’m concerned.
And yet, increasingly, I notice that people don’t really interact with one another as much as they could (or, as I think, should) when in one another’s physical presence. It’s such a relatively rare thing for me that I am somewhat taken aback when it does happen that I’m around someone, in the same room with them, and they’re looking at their smart phones doing who-knows-what. (With some people, I fully understand that they need to do that for various reasons; and, answering a quick text is certainly not outside of the realm of politeness, particularly if one says “I’m sorry, I just need to respond to this quickly.”) But, with too many people I have been seeing, both who are direct friends of mine and with others in the environments where I’ve seen people interacting, there’s an increasing amount of this absorption in virtual worlds and not as much engagement with the social or physical worlds. Sure, there is an element of divinity that can accompany those virtual/informational interactions–indeed, if I thought otherwise, I’d have never started a blog for Antinous, or a group, etc.!–but it’s by no means automatic, and must be deliberately courted and engaged with in order to occur…not unlike the divine worlds and beings coexistent with ours that can be encountered socially or physically as well, with some effort and attention.
My subject line above is from the poem “Caillech Berri,” a possibly 9th-10th century CE Irish poem from Cork, where I lived for five years in Ireland. The verse in particular from which it comes is
cartar lib, nídat doíni;
sinni, ind indbaid marsaimme
batar doíni carsaimme.
which translates as
It is riches you love, not people; when we were alive, it was people we loved.
While that sentiment and phrase (in whole or in parts) is quite apt and applicable to a variety of situations, I find it especially poignant in terms of some of these things, where people would rather look through one another or attempt to ignore each other than interact; or, as in the case of technology, to not engage with their friends when in their physical presence in favor of updating their BaceFook status or Tittwer accounts.
So, part of me really wants to declare Mea culpa! over having missed out on blogging as a part of my devotional “discipline” this month for a few days, but another part of me is kind of saying, “Yes, but…,” and not in a way that feels like making excuses or trying to wheedle one’s way out of something.
I don’t know–what do you think, virtual conversation-partners?