Five Years and Miscellany

I haven’t been posting much here lately. But from what I’ve noticed among my cohorts, it seems to be the norm. I’ve been kinda wondering if it’s because the novelty and interest have worn off or if it’s due to a collective occupation with the rest of our lives. Probably a bit of both. Although I haven’t written much, that does not mean that I haven’t had much to write about. It’s just a lack of time and/or interest/feeling of obligation to carry through other free time activities. For instance I feel obligated to post something from my pool of photos to Flickr each day. Even though I don’t have the time to respond to comments or to comment on other photos. I’ve also discovered mpegs and our mp3 player this past week. So I’ve been stuffing it with songs from our CD collection. But as I’ve said there are a bunch of items I’ve been wanting to post about. So instead of writing full blown posts, I’ll concisely cover them in one big one.

This past weekend marked the end of our fifth year here. I was going to write about how things are different since we arrived, but much of it was covered in last year’s anniversary post. This year I would have to say that there are two things of note. First, I’ve noticed that my language skills have quite noticably advanced. I’m much more comfortable having to speak in French and don’t get nervous before speaking even the most basic phrases in public like I did when we got here. I’ve finally started taking an organized French class and I really hope it will take it to the next level.

The second thing of note is that the honeymoon is over. Before moving here, the people that I had the most contact with tended to be less open to others outside their cultural group and only a handful of them were capable of speaking English. Now I knew that there was an anglophone community and that there were other cultural groups (and part of my decision/agreement to move up here was that they were present.) But my experience did not include either outside of a few shopping trips downtown. So I was very happy (ecstatic even) to find both a vibrant anglophone community along with an francophone community open to both the anglophones and the many cultures in the city. But I’ve come to realize that the differences between the people I knew before and those I’ve met after is largely due to the difference between those who live in the city and those in the outlying areas. It’s not a hard-fast rule with very notable exceptions, but it does follow those lines. And I think it’s definitely taken out some of the sparkle I had after moving here. Though considering how positive it was, it really only could go down. That said there are still many many positives.

Regarding the internet, there has been some waning of sparkle on that front also. And I suppose that’s another honeymoon ending. Though this internet malaise that I’ve had may have to do with the difficult spring (busy in addition to all that snow) we’ve endured. It may be a while before I can shake that funk. But what lead up to that uneasiness are three different things. First was the negative responses I was getting about that SUV post from random people chastising me for what I wrote. People who didn’t know me and hid behind anonymity. Second was seeing the commentary left on online newpaper articles. It seems that the vast majority of the comments are opinionated and disrespectful. They either add nothing to the conversation or if there is anything it’s wrapped in a negativity. I kinda wonder why newspapers continue adding comment sections. Is it purely for hit-counts? Lastly, I’ve been following a webpage thread (I can’t think of the correct term) about the new Calatrava skyscraper in Chicago. A project I could have likely been working on if we had stayed there since my old boss is working on it. But this thread which is over 5000 posts long is full of members chatting back and forth like they were in grade school. Someone asks a question about the project, then two or three members chastise and taunt them for asking the same question raised 4000 posts ago. I suppose it’s because I’m purely interested in the progress and some of the particulars of the project, but it all just seems so childish.

Now I know that these are really just parts of the underbelly of the internet due to the freedoms that anonymity affords. But I still don’t like it. I suppose it’s like driving. I love driving, but that means having to deal with the idiots that cut you off.

There’s so much more to write about. So I’ll have to start making more time for this. Maybe after I finish my European vacation.

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~ by Frank on June 3, 2008.

3 Responses to “Five Years and Miscellany”

  1. I’m sad to hear that you are disenchanted with your environments – both IRL and virtual. I can relate though, and offer that those feelings are cyclical. You might get that sparkle again. Or, you may not and that’s OK too.

    For me personally, it was the sense of camaraderie and sharing I got from cyber-activites – blogging in particular. When that died off inexplicably, so did my internet mojo – perhaps that is what is happening to you, and you need to find an outlet that is more receptive, and where there is satisfying (ie. positive) interaction to fuel you. No one blogs/twitters/facebooks/flickrs in a vacuum, afterall. It’s always about people, and healthy connections – that is the motor behind the social media revolution – the input, not the output so much.

    As for actual, real-life atmospheres – in particular urban vs. “un-urban” – I’m finding a startling reversal of trend in my own affinities, namely, that I actually get along much better these days with people who are NOT urban based. They seem more generous, less complicated (eg. neurotic) and spend far less time with their heads up their arses than city-folk, who tend to be palpably self-absorbed – but that is certainly not a hard-and-fast rule, as you say. Just something I’ve noticed. There is more close-mindedness and “clique-ishness” outside of urban centers, however, so that certainly cancels many positives out.

    Finally, I hope you do keep up your online activities, or more specifically find the enthusiasm to do so happily – and get back what you put in. But then again, I’ve always been selfish (I’m “urban” afterall!), and simply want to keep enjoying your photos and written observations for as long as possible.

  2. The Internet brings many wonders, and many traps. It’s easy at first to share your thoughts and yourself with people you’ve never met in this environment, but it’s also easy to forget the lessons we learn as children about trust. If you are trusting by nature, and someone misunderstands and flames you, it can be hard to reclaim your comfort level on the Internet.

    It’s hard to discern tone in Internet comments and emails. You can’t hear inflection or see facial expressions, so it can be easy for someone to get their noses out of joint, so to speak, and “snap” at someone whose intentions were honorable.

    So the challenge is to find the place where you can trust, and can learn, and feel like you are in the same room with someone. Sometimes it takes really being in the same room with that someone to achieve that feeling. There is no substitute for human interaction, much as I love the Internet.

  3. Thanks, unslaked. Yeah, the camaderie on the blog side seems to be waning. Also on the Flickr side, but it’s still at sustainable levels over there. I suppose I kinda miss that and it may have contributed to my recent doldrums. It seems odd because it’s not because things are going bad, maybe just the same. The camaderie slide may be part of it, but I have a feeling I’ve been talking myself into a bit of depression. I really should just talk myself out of it.

    Thanks, Cathy. I thought I had found that medium, but maybe it just slipped a bit and I need to readjust. It’s true that it doesn’t replace meeting up with friends over a drink.

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