Posted: 27 Aug 2011 04:14 AM PDT
. . . is a strange experience. Television, annoying a companion as it is, is what mediates collective experience to us, especially in crises, keeps us "in the know" (or provides a comforting, deceptive illusion thereof), and makes us feel a part of something larger—a community and an event. For us who live alone, for all its drawbacks it is perhaps particularly important—a voice in the house—as a divorced friend has been exhorting me in vain.
The computer, normally welcome because it doesn't harangue you with overhyped drama, incessant repetition, and noisy sales pitches, is eerily silent now. I usually prefer to get my information by reading—certainly not by watching video snippets, which you have to activate voluntarily and which are the worst of television, rendered-down, semiliterate, breathless, frustrating in what they fail to tell you. But reading is a cold experience when you are facing a mass-scale event paradoxically alone. I'll turn on live streaming AM news radio and will no doubt quickly get annoyed by the repetition, the trivia, the jocular commercials (there it goes: "You may be a candidate for dental implants!"), the attempt to drum up drama where as yet there is none ("What's it like where you are?" "Rain is still pouring down . . ."). The winds are supposed to intensify overnight and the worst to come between 5 A.M. and 5 P.M. tomorrow. Irene is a slow-moving beast.
Of course, if and when there is the nearly inevitable power outage, TV and the Internet will both be gone and only a battery-operated radio (which I failed to buy in time, but which some neighbor probably has) will provide vital information. The result will probably be renewed bonding with neighbors, a taste of the unwired world we would revert to if there were a massive grid crash or sabotage. It will be a novel experience for the young, who will keep reflexively checking their blank iPhones, and a nostalgic one for older generations.
Posted: 26 Aug 2011 12:17 PM PDT
As New York prepares for the biggest amount of blow since Studio 54, here's hoping our blogmistress finds some isle of security from Hurricane Irene, complete with cats in tow!
Fingers — and eyes! — crossed!
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