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Nov 28, 2008

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Age: 37
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Thursday, November 13, 2008


[4/6] – The Loss, pt 3, Distractions
Current mood: distractable
Category: Life

[This is the fourth part in a series; go back a few if you missed 'em.]

It doesn't matter what is on, it's the persistent presence.  Stats correlate things like violent crime very well with the regular propagation of electronic media.  But a strong effect of particular content has not been shown.  So yes, little Eddie can watch a shoot-em-up cop show and probably not go beat up the neighbor kid.  And twenty-something Sally can watch a monotonously sexed-up dramedy without it affecting her dating expectations.  The real damage is that Eddie did not spend that afternoon with that neighbor kid, and Sally could've had a casual dinner date but got caught up with her TiVo instead.

So, we may not imitate quirky TV characters, but make no mistake – emotional attachment to fictional characters is very real.  This goes for celebrities (from skillful actors to charismatic politicians) as well.  These are not people with whom you expect to ever have a two-way relationship, but you still empathize with them.  And why not?  They're right there in front of you, non-stop, more than most of your friends!

Personally, I'll confess that I've never shed a tear over a relative's funeral.  But I got more than a little misty when Paul Newman died.  I wept openly when we lost Jack Lemmon.  I felt like I had to leave work when Stevie Ray Vaughan was stolen away.  I was tore up when M*A*S*H went off the air, and still react strongly to re-reading some of the more serious stories in the big compilation book I bought.  I do think this is backwards.

Besides the one-way media and the people behind it, there are now lots of other distractions that keep us from interacting with those who are physically close to us.  I used to say that with mobile phones, most people were talking to the same six people all day long.  Now I realize that those with six were the lucky ones!  I think for most adults it's now down to maybe one person outside their immediate household.  With the internet, there are many more ways to interact with people – and you don't even have to have met them at all!  These are people with whom you really can have a meaningful relationship - but only within the confines of a little box.  However many written exchanges that go back and forth, when life takes a rotten turn, ultimately all they can offer is an 'attaboy'.

Note well (i.e. NB), I am online all the time.  I do interact with far away people and people that I may not ever meet (but I have taken pains to meet many of them, even across the country, or across the ocean!).  But the primary focus of all the time I spend here and in other venues is to enrich my existing relationships, to make a few new (local) relationships, and most importantly to help arrange real live face-to-face activities.  Before I even moved to Greenville (in 2004) I went looking for online forums tied to the area.  The Ground Zero forum was the first find, then I got on here [myspace] to check out bands that were not just worth hearing, but who might have fans and friends that I'd want to meet.

Oh, one other death that affected me significantly was one of those internet people.  He's been enshrined by another friend here,
We lost him on November 10th, 2001.

{on to part 5}

Currently reading :
By Suzy Kalter

7:37 AM - 3 Comments - 2 Kudos - Add Comment -


Yep - we make emotional investments in entities brought to us by the media, whether or not we'll ever meet them, and regardless of whether they're even real.

In my experience as a stay-home mom, that can be beneficial or detrimental...beneficial to individuals who are at home with small children, if they have no other grownups to talk to throughout the day. Detrimental when some of them wind up spending all day online, to the neglect of their child(ren), or as a replacement to actually going out and meeting other parents/kids to interact with in person.

SAHM message boards have been so beneficial to me over the years (getting advice, swapping stories, having support, learning a lot, not just about parenting, but about interpersonal relationships in general - you see it ALL on these boards, the good and the bad). And I've met some great people who I wouldn't have otherwise met, since we're so far apart. I found my first mom message board when I was at home with my infant, stuck in the house, in the freezing, sub-zero temps of winter, with no friends or neighbors around (they all worked) and no adults to interact with during the day! Gone are the days where we live in a closely-knit village full of relatives all helping each other out with the little ones. When I became a mom, I was all on my own. Then I hooked up, online, with other moms in the same boat, spread all over the country.

(As an aside, I cried my eyes out when the last episode of M*A*S*H aired...I'll never forget the images of Winchester seeing the bodies of his orchestra members, and absorbing just what had happened...and the final scene which you have pictured in your blog... :o(

Posted by Hilary on Nov 13, 2008 1:26 PM
[Reply to this]


Come to think of if, M*A*S*H was all about people who became separated by circumstance from their families and old friends, but who get close with those who *are* right around them in their new predicament. That's the lesson here, too.

Posted by HVY MTL on Nov 13, 2008 1:37 PM
[Reply to this]


Miller writes about his wife's experience on some soap opera forums. It was such a zoo she went on to write a book about it!

I could never ever again watch "Goodbye, Farewell, and Amen".

Posted by HVY MTL on Nov 13, 2008 1:33 PM
[Reply to this]

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