The fact that there exist machines which can make images of the soft tissue surrounding one’s vertebrae, for example, is amazing. That when one gets the radiologist’s report in duplicate, and finds not one but two CDs (one compact disc for each copy of the report) is also surprising. What blows the mind is that I, the patient, can look at every single one of those CAT scan images on my laptop. Why would I ever want to contemplate my navel again when I can experience nausea by gazing down the abyss of my own spinal column?
So, fast-forward three days, and I am chatting with a friend on Skype. We had fixed the time while I was out. I did not respond on Facebook, so she hailed me on Whatsapp. My iPhone pinged, and we arranged a time. She had mentioned a poem someone had written and had translated into English. Neither the poem nor the translation were that fabulous. What blew our minds is that while we were talking, she had sent me the document in Word via Skype and while we continued talking, I had opened the document on my second screen. What is also unusual is that someone could follow my eye movements while I read first the original poem, and then the attempt at translation.
Despite our minds being somewhat stunned at the wonders of technology, we took advantage of it again when I likened the translation of the poem to Jackson Pollock having a bad hair day. Next thing, I am looking at the programme of a recently ended exhibition of abstract art at the Tate Modern, promotional material for which she also sent at lightening speed to the screen in front of me. The art, too, blew my mind, and, as I have done so often in the past, I wondered privately what it would look like in real life. I remember that my first viewing of Caravaggio’s Calling of Saints Peter and Andrew housed in Buckingham Palace moved me to tears. No paper or screen image can do the work justice, and therein lies the wonder of it all.
Skype is pretty amazing for making long-distance phone calls to ordinary landlines. I phone Australia from Europe, chat for over an hour to my mother, and it normally costs about one euro. But not, apparently, when I phone on the dot of midnight, my time, as we cross from Saturday night into Sunday. Then, it costs nothing. Occasionally, my mother thinks it costs a fortune, and so appreciates the call even more. Now, isn’t that amazing?
A couple of hours after that conversation on poetry and art and a few less lofty subjects that constitute everyday existence, another age-matched peer and I learned together how to share screens in the new version of Skype. She had done this before, but not on this version. It amused me greatly that she was looking at my second screen, which was displaying a page of a website of which she is the webmaster. It is an excellent way to save time. How easy it was for my colleague to point things out, now that she had something to point at! How easy it was for her to see that whether I was doing the right thing. If I had been really organised, she, too, could have peered down the abyss of my spinal column, just for fun.
Oh, well, I suppose it is always as well to keep something for the next mind-blowing session.
©2017 Allison Wright
The technology is in our lives, like it or not. Sometimes I’d like to go ‘off-grid’ completely.
Despite the exchanging of data described above, we love technology because it gives us the opportunity to have “near-off-grid” experiences. How ironic! Saves a lot on the transport bill, though — or the need for us all to live in one place.
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