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14 September, 1998

Rod & Rocky. Photo by Bob Gentry 2000 by Stanyan Music Group

A Thought for Today

Principles will get you farther, faster than the quickest horse.

 

Dear Rod, I think your 1978 "The Loneliness of the Long Distance Surfer" has a lot to say to all of us who enjoy and use The Net. I hope you will consider it for "Some of the Best" Thanks, George King.

THE LONELINESS OF THE LONG DISTANCE SURFER

A recent study, taken over several years, has concluded that depression and the Internet have a distinct correlation. The conclusion being that the more time we spend in front of our monitors with our eyes on the net and our backs to our friends and family, the more likely we are to be depressed and despondent. I believe the study is probably right on the mark. In fact, I don't doubt any of the findings for a minute.

Who among us computer geeks hasn't experienced feelings of guilt about neglecting and even losing contact with friends, family and even pets because the net experience is such a private, and yes, let's admit it, addictive experience. Life-mates and friends do feel and get neglected. I had a cat that felt so left out he made his point by pissing on my hard drive. I got the message. An old friend, Robyn Whitney (she was the first one to encourage me to have a Website) has a great photo of one of her pusses perched on top of her CPU monitor. Trust me, it wasn't because her favorite feline felt it was warm up there, he just wanted some attention from his favorite non-cat.

Of course, why limit the behavior of loved ones' misunderstandings toward each other to the net? As a lifelong record collector I've felt obliged to sneak many a purchase from Tower Records past a mate or so who not only wasn't into music but felt my extravagant behavior toward collecting [why bother with a steak when for the same money you can get a Jo Stafford or Jeri Southern album] was obsessive, even perverted. And don't women have the same problem with shoes, or when the husband asks about a new dress the reply has to be, "Oh, this old thing? It's been in the back of my closet for years." What about the guy who sinks his extra time and money into cars and forgets anniversaries? The poor son of a gun will never have any peace.

As someone who has had, and overcome for now anyway, a long bout with clinical depression I know a lot about the reaction of friends and family to what they term 'odd behavior'. Compulsion? I'm compulsive about everything that really catches my eye. If I get into Daylilies I have to know all there is to know about them, even learn to pollinate and breed my own varieties. Old English Sheepdogs? Why settle for one when you have room for four? Cashmere sweaters? Do you know how many colors they come in? Computer fonts? He who dies with the most fonts wins. I'll win. Before I discovered the real, value for money, P22 Type Foundry, Adobe used to send me love letters. A sudden turn on for Mahler? Better to have all 20 boxed sets of his symphonies, than just one.

All of these hobbies/compulsions cost big bucks and lots of time. Contrary to popular belief I'm limited on both accounts, so I'm always living on 'the edge', silently hoping that a new technology won't come along that I just have to be involved in. Enjoy my share of booze & sex, thank God I'm not addicted to either or I'd end up as a bartender in a whorehouse.

I've met some very nice people on 'The Net' and don't regret a moment spent on it. OK, could have done without a few of those IM's, but I have friends, real friends, I wouldn't have gotten to know without my Mac & my passport to the great unknown. Have I met the love of my life here? Who knows?

I can't help but wonder, though, if the study and the questions asked shouldn't have been about guilt and escape as opposed to mood and depression. All of us feel guilty and are made to feel so by ignoring those we love. Each of us, including those who bitch the most about lack of attention, needs escape. If the relationship is strong enough it can withstand the guilt and relish in the escape. Still, try and explain that to the party being ignored. Or, as my equally compulsive friend Wade puts it, "find someone with the same interests . . . and then your interests change."

Only solution I can see is to drag that partner, probably kicking and screaming all the way, to his or her own CPU. Encourage them to find out about the joy, knowledge, real fun and independence to be found on the net. Of course you'll still have to sneak those CD's in the house in a brown paper bag and hide those shoes under the bed till they get the right amount of dust on them. Will relationships ever be different? I doubt it. But they will always be worth the guile, guilt and grab-ass you have to go through to make them work.

                                                 RM 9/13/98

See you tomorrow with more as the Independence Day Weekend continues, meanwhile sleep warm.

notable birthdays Elizabeth Dole o Medgar Evers o Christopher Gluck o Sir Tyrone Guthrie o Hermann Hesse o Polly Holliday o Ahmad Jamal o Luci Baines Johnson o Rene Lacoste o Patrice Lumumba o Thurgood Marshall o Jimmy McNichol o Brock Peters o Richard Petty o Dan Rowan o Curtis Rowe o Eric Yeager
Rod's random thoughts Life is a highway, not a station.

Impatience can be a virtue, if you practice it on yourself.

Lend enough love out and you'll be paid back all your lifetime.

Don't depend on the end being the beginning. No one has come back to tell us that's so.

THE DAY THEY BUILT THE ROAD

All day we saw them coming,
the trucks and truckers,
the caterpillars
              and the cat-skinners.
The foremen and the workmen,
the asphalt spreaders
in their dirty black trucks
who ate the green
with more precision
than the sharpest plow.

They'd cut
straight through
the northeast field
a month before.
The steam shovel harvest
lay there still,
              bent up cornstalks
boulders with their shins skinned.
The hide of the earth
split open and quartered.

And now they'd come
to finish off the job
to cut our lives up too.

Thinking about
the dogs I'd chased
down through the yellow corn,
the girls I'd walked
back home along the fence,
mostly the smell of the field
the song of the crows
the rattle of the field mice
on the new turned ground
made me stop watching them.

They were harvesters
and spoilers too
no different from the farmer
in the next field down the road.

Tomorrow
we'd start smelling gasoline
and diesel smoke
as the road
came crashing through.

Mama said
It's just a road.
But she knew too
that with the coming of the road
our lives would change,
it wouldn't be the same.
And it wasn't.

      - from the album, "The Earth", 1971 & "And To Each Season", 1972

1971, 1972, 1988, 1998, 2000 by Stanyan Music Group & Rod McKuen. All Rights Reserved
Birthday research by Wade Alexander o Poetry from the collection of Jay Hagan o Coordinated by Melinda Smith
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