In the Olde Days in the Olde World we lived in one community for most of our lives, unless/until we emigrated a world away, never to see that Olde World or our friends-&-relations ever again. Never ever.
A family member who emigrated to Ireland sends me an NYT article on how knitting can be a revolutionary act. One who emigrated to the USA sends a wee video of a fuzzy and completely improbable bird that looks more like a Muppet than a living thing: the Great Potoo. One who stayed in the Canadian city of his birth sends a new-to-them word: indocile.
Just a generation-or-so ago in this country we knew our relations because they lived near us. We knew our parents’ friends. We knew our neighbours. Heck, we knew our neighbours’ friends-&-relations.
A neighbour sends me a blog post on ChatGPT in scientific writing by one of his relations and a recap of some irritatingly good photography by people whom we can’t decide whether we’re happy-or-not to not be related to, if you can parse that. A work “neighbour” sends me a photo of a mystery bird for identification by my Bird Help Desk, a relation of mine.
We knew the older/younger brothers and sisters of people we went to school with. We knew who had married whom.
I flip a tweeted proofreading “funny” to an editor friend in BC, a post about a Complaints Choir to a singing friend in AB, a set of groaner-puns to one unlucky grandson and a silly map (from folks who specialize in same) and a Harvard Business Review article on decision-making to grandchildren in AB, ON, and CO.
Our community is not what it was, that’s for sure. I don’t live in the same city as my family. I don’t know everyone on my block. I never met their parents or their siblings or their kids. I don’t remember their school antics.
But it’s not all loss. Has it ever been so easy to share interesting bits with those with whom we share interests? Has it ever been so easy to connect to a friend-or-relation’s interest, even when we don’t share it, we just know about it? No. Never ever.
My father and his two brothers emigrated to Canada with their young families in the late fifties, and although they (Mum and Dad, and my aunts and uncles) did manage to get back a couple of times to see the parents and five siblings that stayed in England, it was for them essentially never, ever. No family get togethers, and we children didn’t get to know and grow up with the many cousins in ‘the old country’, and our memories of them were frozen in time. However, in recent years, we’ve all (mostly) re-established contact with each other – cousins that we last saw when we were little children, or perhaps never saw because they were born after the emigration. In fact, through family tree research, I’ve made contact with ‘new’ cousins whom I didn’t know existed.
Agreed, it has never, ever, been so easy!!
Marion – Yes, it’s a great distance even between the UK and Canada/NA (not to mention points further afield) and an equivalent/prohibitive expense for many. Recent strides in cheaper and better telecommunications have also helped. Imagine the amazement of WWII soldiers seeing the internet connections that today’s deployed Canadians have access to. How lovely for you to have (re)established family contacts.
Great perspective for me to keep in mind. Thanks!
Lorna – 🙂
I have read several ChatGPT paragraphs and am left with the same impression: they are dull, monotonous (length of sentences), and rather soulless, like the “author” couldn’t care less if Stephen got invited to speak or not. No spark. Pedestrian.
Perhaps these paragraphs could be made into audiobooks (read by AI of course) to help one go to sleep.
Barbara – That’s an interesting observation. Lots of people have been impressed with the relative fluency of the writing and its accuracy (in most cases). But is it *interesting* to read? Ah, that’s a different standard.
For me, these past (almost) 3 years of being sequestered has been totally bearable due to two things: Contented John and the Internet. They are mutually exclusive, as John has no use for the “interweb”. My dozens of friends and Friends keep each other company. It has been my window on the world, for better — or worse.
Barbara – Yes, a contented co-vivant is a treasure above rubies. And the internet has been a godsend to me as well – and to many of us, I think.