A discarded NY Post beckons me from the train seat. The touch of a tabloid—guaranteed to pass a half hour of the commute as I milk the tacky content for nuggets to suck on en route to Grand Central—is too tempting to avoid.
I’m engulfed in a sudden time warp (is it really 2013?). Paul Anka, Jay (not Jack) Black, and Jackie Mason are playing Westbury (they’re not already dead?) and Cindy Adams still dishes out her embalmed brand of gossip.
I look at the front page—one dollar! Last I remembered was a quarter, and the rag was never even worth that. Still, the touch of an actual newspaper sends thrills through deprived fingertips.
As I’ve suspected for years, I have become officially “out of the loop.”
No longer knowing, or caring to know, the likes or doings of most of the headline-grabbers of today, I can’t even pretend. Why does everyone feel the need to tweet, to announce, to meme all over the map? Must we fill every nano-nook of quiet space in our souls that really should be prime real estate, a gated community against cultural riffraff?
Curmudgeonly thoughts are settling into my bones like calcium deposits, and I am not quite sure how that feels. I certainly don’t want to ossify, nor do I want to engage fully with this twit-headed world. Now even the NY Post is reminding me of this fact. The front page announces that Twitter is offering an IPO.
I move forward (at least I like to think) in tandem with—but not one of—the masses hunkered over their devices, which are welded to their appendages evoking some freak evolutionary adaptation. I assume that, as a species, we all desire more or less the same thing; to travel a path that leads full-circle, to a death with dignity, exiting a life that held meaning. Yet I witness a morphing at warp speed, with humans racing through a world I can no longer identify with.
Friends, chiding gently at my reluctance to join in lockstep, probably wonder where I veered off the road. Whatever wave was cresting on the cultural Zeitgeist, I used to shoot its curl. Or was I just tipsy on the cocktail of youth with its sidecar of ambition? Life somehow buffered and shaped me into another version of my earlier self, a truer one if only because this is where I am now. And I accept that.
“I love my iPhone!” This, from one of my closest, smartest, most sensitive friends—the one least likely to succumb if for no other reason but that she is an Edwardian-era Anglophile, with books lined ceiling-to-floor in her Brooklyn railroad apartment. I am left with dashed hopes for a like-minded entourage as we enter our sixties.
Like Dana Andrews in “Invasion of the Body Snatchers,” I have pod people all around me.
“You don’t have a Kindle?” No. My eyes balk at reading a screen for anything more than utilitarian purposes. They need the tactile reassurance of a printed page, the soft rag of paper cushioning serif typeface.
GPS? NFW. And so on. Am I on my way to becoming Maxine, that cranky cartoon character? No. I am simply choosing my path. Following my dream. Doing it my way. Preferring to watch a spider spin its web in real-time than be caught in the ever soul-shrinking world wide web.
If anyone cares to meet up in the tar pit, just RSVP. I’ll be sending out invitations via snail mail. And I won’t be tweeting about it, either.
What happens in the tar pit stays in the tar pit.
Also published on Elephant Journal