My sister lives in Minneapolis and I haven’t physically seen her in five years. Earlier this week we had a brief video conference so that I could help her with her computer.
On my flight home from Paris in February I saw my previous neighbor from Salt Lake City. Perry wasn’t physically on the flight. He was one of the flight attendants in the safety video.
Perry’s cousin Tom who lived in Germany knew my friend, Kabir, who grew up in Afghanistan. They’d met in Kenya. Kabir now resides in Canada.
My close friend Steve resides in rural Ontario in a town with a population of 700. There I met an artist whose partner works in Toronto. He knows my friend Kabir. They used to work in the same industry.
I used to work with a man by the name of David. After knowing one another for six years, we discovered that we grew up five miles apart. His uncle knows my mother. We no longer work for that company – and he now lives in Texas. We video conference when we want to talk.
One night many years ago when I was in Finland and couldn’t sleep I turned on the TV at 4:00 in the morning and saw a news report from Frankfurt. The reporter was interviewing a friend of mine, Jürgen, who lives in Germany.
On the subway platform in Helsinki I received a message from a friend in Columbus. He reminded me to stop by the office of a publisher. I’d have forgotten otherwise.
When I wake up at 1:30 in the morning in Columbus, I turn on my computer and talk with my friends in Finland. It’s 9:30 in the morning there.
My boyfriend (he prefers the term “inamorato”) lives in Chicago. We’d met on line nearly two years ago. When I was in Chicago last fall, before the relationship developed, I’d forgotten that he lived there and I didn’t know to reach him. We’d only ever talked on line. When I returned to Columbus, we reconnected via the Internet.
These days he and I ‘talk’ throughout the day via e-mail. My hand-held device lets me know when he’s sent me a message. When I visit him in Chicago, I text him from the bus and he meets me at Union Station. Last weekend we were roller blading together in Toledo. Today I sent him a photograph while I was in the Short North.
Tonight I met his sister who lives in Columbus. She and I are in the video you’ve just watched. She and her husband had planned to join us in Toledo for Easter weekend, but discovered that she had to remain in Columbus. I sent her a link to the photos I took over the weekend which I uploaded to a web site. We’ve been e-mailing one another, planning for the event that we attended this evening at the Wexner Center.
Next week while I’m in Chicago I’ll be meeting with a transportation engineer who also lives there. I’ve not met him, but he’s a regular reader of this blog. I sent him a message via Facebook. He suggested that we meet for lunch.
Doug lives in Columbus and we’ve never met, but we know him from Twitter. I passed him one night in German Village while he was having dinner at the Mohawk. We share our travel itineraries on Dopplr. He’ll be arriving in Chicago just as I’m leaving.
The Wexner Center event, known as Continuous City, is about exactly what I’ve just described. It is a one hour and twenty minute multi-media on-stage installation that demonstrates how we are now ‘present’ in multiple locations at almost any given time. Time, in fact, is almost irrelevant in the current structure of our lives. Time is no longer equated with distance and distance no longer with time.
The concept is fascinating – and it can also be alienating. The human animal requires human interaction and new technology helps bridge the gaps. As much as it tries, however, our electronic interactions cannot replace the true presence of those we know. It does, however, allow us to meet those we would have never met without it.
Continuous City plays in Columbus for two more nights, Friday and Saturday, before moving on to Spain.
Experience it and then think about your life and those with whom you have relationships.