Sunday, 1 March 2009

Virtual Paradise

One jarring paradox about living in Todos Santos lies is the difference between basic and electronic utilities. While indisputably necessary potable water service is unreliable, even in town, and sometimes unavailable in other, more gringo-desired areas, electronic services are pervasive and predictable. Ingenuity, coupled with creative monopoly-driven pricing approaches, has made it possible to stay connected, virtually, everywhere you go, using technology that is probably more advanced than typically used in the Northern, supposedly more evolved world.

Even where water pipes dare not go, entrepreneurs have created long-distance wireless networks to share landline high speed internet service. Just about everyone it seems (except us), local or ex-pat, has a cell phone, the explosive growth of which is aided by low prices fostered by the unique approach of “Quien llama, paga” – he who calls, pays. Our landline bill for calling cellphones is, for example, greater than our line cost! And now, high-speed internet service is available just about everywhere using a cheap cellphone modem service.

It is interesting to recall that, maybe 10 or so years ago, there was no internet service available, and phones were a rarity, with people having to line up at the message centre in town to gain access to a booth to make or receive calls. Thoughts of being disconnected in that way send shivers through my body, for I, like many others, have become essentially addicted to connectivity.

But is this connected paradise a positive thing? True, it enables me to keep in touch with friends, family and colleagues across the world through video calls. But it also means that you never detach from the manic word of “news” where there is a constant cacophony of misery and prognostications of doom, each reporter seeming to want to outdo the others in their depiction of the end of civilization as we know it. Like drivers craning their neck for a look at a car wreck, it’s very hard not to delve into all this gloom.

When I go for a stroll after taking my dose of “reality”, I am shocked by the dissonance of the hopelessness revolving in my head, and the world that my senses encounter. The sun is still shining, indeed lulling its subjects into lassitude in this unseasonably warm season. Fresh colour floods the plants in our garden. A menagerie of birds, from rampant and irrepresible Roosters through caustic Cactus Wrens and percussionist Flickers (who have an unnatural love of my metal chimney) to invisible yet mellifluent Warblers, still roam our yard. Raucous revellers from last night’s party (for Mexicans do indeed know how to party!) stagger along our dusty roads, holding onto each other for support. And so life still continues, much as before, in this sleepy little town.

I have noticed a trend amongst some fellow internet trollers to divest themselves of the habit of reading about the misery, and to surround themselves with more positive experiences. Part of me sees this as ostrich-like behaviour; ignoring tsunami warnings in the hope that it will turn out to be a mirage. But another part of me, the part that listens to the birds and the happily inebriated locals, sees the truth in this approach. The world will continue, no matter what stupidities humans inflict. And, while some will see it as ignoring what we cannot change, I suspect that, actually, the tide of negativity is self-realizing and so by thinking differently, perhaps we can change some small part of our world for the better.


Anonymous said...

I don't know that it is ostricj-lke to want to immerse yourself in happier things (although it is a myth that ostriches stick their head in the sand). I think of it as a Buddhist-like waterign the good seeds - reminding myslef what is good and beautiful in the world. It desn't make me less likely to do what I can about the bad, it gives me the hope to keep trying.

kenfaraway said...

I refer you back to your previous comment about the wind and the quietness within. On balance is the negative any more powerful than the positive. You hint at an uncomfortable truth
"I suspect that, actually, the tide of negativity is self-realizing and so by thinking differently, perhaps we can change some small part of our world for the better."
Using "I" statements might make this observation as true for you as it is universally.

Ian Lidster said...

Our newspapers are filled with doom-and-gloom tales of economic angst and then our 'leaders' are befuddled that consumers are not stepping up to the plate. Well, it might be because they'e scared shitless.
But I do believe 'letting go' and trying to think positively does work. 'Accept the things one cannot change'

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