Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Modern Stalking

I'm still having problems re-adjusting to the technological world (it's taken me five months to get on this bloody website, after all), but I'm starting to think that maybe the adjusted ones have the real problems. Why? My super-techno-savvy stalker.

Text messaging is one of those things that is new to me. It makes me feel kind of popular when my phone does that "special" ring, but mostly just annoyed, because it probably means I'm going to have to start typing with my thumbs. And while thumbs (particularly opposable ones) come in quite handy, I'd rather employ Morse code, smoke signals or cave-man grunting before trying to type with them. Which brings me back to my story. Over Thanksgiving break I was at home, happily doing UTTERLY NOTHING when my phone rang. "Hi" it read, from an 801 number that I didn't recognize. The last time this happened, I wrote back, pretending I knew who the person was, trying to be friendly-yet-vague to avoid offending anyone who I'm actually good enough friends with to give my cell phone number. (It's a short list.) It ended up taking a month for me to figure out who that mystery close friend had been. So anyway, it happens again. I debate for a moment, then decide to admit my ignorance. "hi. who are you?" I respond, blatently ignoring rules of captialization. "Jason." Jason. Which Jason? We exchange a few more lines, which inform me that he is a random stranger, and I am a random number that he text messaged. Weird. But at this point, I try to be polite, yet distant, in a leave-me-alone-but-don't-get-angry-and-send-me-obscene-messages kind of way. He apparently doesn't get the hint. Every day, usually several times per day, he sends me messages. "hi," "hey," "watz up." Articulate fellow. I bounce between ignoring and trying to be polite. (Sometimes I think being think polite is just another way of getting into trouble.) Finally, after a good four day stretch of ignoring, I get completely exhasperated and drill the guy--who are you, where do you live, why are you bothering me??!!?! Jason tells me he lives in Never Never Land with Tinkerbell. I tell him I never, never want to get a message from him again. (Okay, I was really much more polite and much less direct, but the phrasing just flowed. Poetic license, right?) He vanishes. I hope it lasts. But this all leads me to my point. (Yes, I promise I'm getting there. . . )

WHAT EVER HAPPENED TO THE GOOD STALKERS? The ones who lurk around corners, memorize your class schedule, look up your home town address on Route-Y? What kind of a stalker is Jason, anyway? Text messaging a stranger? Where is that going to lead? Why on earth would anyone spend that much time typing with their thumbs to someone they don't know? For all he knows (as I did point out to him) I could be psycho. Or worse (for the 21-year-old boy he claims to be) I could be fat and ugly. I miss stalkers who did their background research before picking a victim.

But I think what's really missing is human contact. So much technology enabling communication--e-mail, cell phones, instant messenger--and Jason resorts to text messaging a random phone number, trying day after day to connect with someone, anyone. That is a sad commentary. Maybe amidst all the drive to improve our connection, we should think less about the speed and more about what we're connecting to.