Friday, 9 April 2010

On Communication.

I’ve been thinking a lot about communication lately. Partly because this time last week I’d just moved into my new flat and I was contemplating a few weeks of no proper internet connection or a landline. How would I cope without all those constant Facebook updates and Body Shop junk mails that keep clogging up my inbox? Truly I sometimes rue the day I ever agreed to that loyalty card. But here I am blogging. And its all thanks to my flatmate’s dongle. Oh I can hear you smirk, dear reader, whomever you may be, but this unfortunately sounds much ruder than it actually is. A ‘dongle’ is a small device for the laptop which as if by magic provides, tentative, sometimes non-committal internet - the Liberal Democrats of the computer world if you will.

And inspired by all this technology at my finger tips I felt liberated, suddenly the three days when the lines of communication had been broken were freed. And its a good thing too because I’d almost taken to the internet cafe where I’d inevitably look like one of those people I’m trying desperately to become – a writer. And this is not a look I’m quite ready to go public with. Anyway in the midst of this need to communicate I commented on two blogs I’ve been following for a while and what resulted had varied degrees of success. Both respective fellow bloggers wrote back. One even thanked me for my kind words. This was refreshing and reinforced my 21st century sentiment that wants to see the internet as a force for good and not the death of postcards, love letters and catch-ups over coffee - or in my case wine.

Back to communication and all this follows on from my previous post when I thought about the blogging process in general; its organic nature, the way in which it forces you create words and worlds in a short space of time and how it allows you to comment on these spaces at the touch of a button. Suddenly not only do you have people projecting their worlds into the ether, you have people projecting back. Commenting on someone else’s writing to all intents and purposes breaks down the barriers of communication which in the real world with all its sociological, political, economic, gendered, class, and not to mention geographical divisions makes impossible. And this if existentially unsettling, is, ultimately, good. I think.

Like today I commented on the excellent Tania Kindersley’s blog ‘Backwards in High Heels’. She’d posted a fabulously eloquent assessment of Gordon Brown and how essential one’s character must be when we make a decision about who we want to run the country in a few weeks time. Then as if by cosmic magic and so to demonstrate her point more potently she posted a video of Barack Obama playing basketball with a professional player. Above the video she posed a simple premise – imagine Gordon Brown doing this. Enough said. Surely communication doesn’t get more concise than that?

And yet back in the real world, while the cyber-words of those we don’t know can hold the sentiment of kindness and generosity, I worry that in day to day life, when confronted with the physical flesh of commuters, passers bye, postmen, we shut down. I hope this is not a general sense of hostility and rather shyness, but however much it pains me to say it as a feminist whom should be cautious of the notions of romantic love, it is at the death of chivalry. Okay maybe men only doff their hats and open doors to ladies who wear gloves in old movies, but really from anyone, how much does a smile cost?


  1. What an amazingly kind and blush-making thing to say about my tiny blog.

    I wish you huge luck with your writing. In the immortal words of Winston Churchill: keep buggering on.

    By the way, completely agree about kindness of the blogosphere. AND the value of smiling at people in actual life. I am always grinning at people in the street, with varying degrees of success (sometimes one gets the care in the community look).

  2. Hi Tania,

    Thank you so much for your kind words of encouragement. It sounds silly but your comment is so encouraging and makes the experience of blogging (which can be an existentially unsettling experience at times) totally worth while. I've been following your blog for a while after seeing you at last year's Edinburgh International Book Festival and reading 'Backwards' and I look forward to more politically orientated posts coming from you. It's so refreshing to read a woman's perspective on the whole damn thing!

    Your comment has made my week!

    Have a lovely weekend,

    Ruth xxx

  3. Ruth, as I was reading this window on your life, the sound track of a movie my son, your flat mate's brother, is watching, floated quietly down the hall: I don't know whether it is a good film, or whether, God help me, I thought for a second I was in it, but you were writing of the positive life enhancing elements of what the internet can enable, and - as when the strings or woodwind prompt us in the cinema to 'go with it' a bit more, so did I- and felt that indeed it is our duty to come up with that 'smile that costs nothing' - whether in the street or in a blog, however literary are our ulterior motives. The Moment of hands across Cyberspace has past, but I thought it was worth passing on. Edward