Friday, May 23, 2008

What's realy the best way to stay in touch?

By S. Derrickson Moore
Sun-News reporter
LAS CRUCES — It was a week of multimedia madness.
And it hit me that the more gadgets we invent and install to make it easier to communicate with one another, the more complicated it can get.
Some cousins from Florida surprised me with a visit. After finally navigating through messages on a total of three landlines, two cell phones and three e-mail sites, we spent some time deciding whether it would be easier for them to consult Mapquest or their GPS system to figure out how to get to my house for dinner. I realized I knew something even quicker and easier: I could just swing by on my way home from work, pick them up and take them.
Meanwhile back at the office, I was coping with our new phone system, which sends voice mail to two places: our PCs and a message menu we can access via our new phone set. Which, by the way, could give anyone a substantial case of feature fatigue, just trying to choose ring tones. Do we really need a sextet selection of two kinds (each) of percussion, saxophones and pianos? But having ventured into this seductive Eden of choices, I could linger for days, trying to figure out ways we could create a newsroom symphony, or at least a hot jazz number, if we could all choose harmonious riffs and get people to call us all in just the right rhythms.
But I digress. I figured the system would make things much easier, but I find call overloads have already crashed my PC’s e-mail system. When I tried to erase the old messages on my phone set, I somehow erased the new ones I hadn’t heard. And a recorded voice informed me it would probably take several minutes to complete the erasing processes, something I could do in a spilt second with a push of a button my old-fangled, less complicated voice mail machine at home.
While waiting, I did a little mulitasking. I took advantage of the immediacy of e-mail to fine-tune a primitive rite and work out some rain dance Internet-choreography with my soulmate in Iowa City. (You can thank Roger and me for those sprinkles we finally got in mid-May, ahem. )
A fellow Baby Boomer and I were muttering to one another that the latest waves of communication advances seem to be dragging us several steps backwards in terms of ease and intimacy.
The personal and sometimes beautiful human touches in snail mail letters and the warmth of a loved one’s voice over the phone are both more soulful than e-mail and texting.
And sometimes, surprisingly, much, much easier. A senior citizen BFF was noting that her arthritic figures have a very tough time trying to send text messages on her elegant little cell phone.
I admitted that I have yet to send a single text message, though my new phone is fully equipped and ready to text when I finally get with the program. I’d planned to wait until my summer vacation with grandson Alexander the Great, 11. He’s a congenital com-tech pro who worked on his first Web site when he was in nursery school. He has been very kind and patient about explaining new technology to me. And unlike adult tech geeks and salespersons, he really gets the concept of need-to-know basics, and does not attempt to overload my brimming memory banks with useless information or sell me exotic accessories I will never get around to using before they become obsolete.
After he is satisfied that I have the necessary survival skills, however, Alex will sometimes dazzle me with a virtuoso performance that could include anything from a show-stopping round of Guitar Hero to his latest claymation stop-action video production.
I hope to pick up some pointers for online videos, my next project in my ongoing quest to become a better MoJo (mobile journalist). A fun evening at the 2008 DACC FTTP DMF (alphabet soup translation: Dona Ana Community College Film Tech Training Program’s Digital Media Festival) convinced me that there are groups of talented students who were born knowing much more that I will every grasp, and it’s exciting to see.
But I am beginning to be even more excited about the prospect of spending time in a Shangri-La beyond the reach of signals that can follow me from office PCs and voice mail systems to cell phones, Blackberries and home laptops.
In the current explosion of multimedia madness, being able to be out of touch — at least for a little while — might just become the ultimate status symbol and luxury.
S. Derrickson Moore can be reached at

No comments: