I have always been told to stop talking to myself.
It has not been easy to explain to people that I had not been talking to myself; I had been hitting on Dorothy Parker.
My inner dialogue has always kicked ass. My imaginary friends were the wittiest people I had ever met. It took me the resolve of Kannagi to keep from entering into droll conversations with William Shakespeare every time my thoughts wandered in the direction of the 17th century.
Only I could sort out my internal confusions.
For example, Billy Shakespeare referred to Caliban as "Indian" in The Tempest. He wrote the play in 1610. The Brits came to India in 1600. They went to Jamestown in Virginia in 1607... wtf, dude. What manner of Indian was this? Native American (Red) Indian? Caribbean indentured one-of-us Indians? South American Spanish prison-bitch Indians? He wouldn't tell me clearly.
This, plus a few quips with James Thurber, some manful joshing with Ernest Hemingway and some cutting dialogue with HL Mencken was the way I addressed my inner Quixote. It was my method of tilting at windmills.
And when I was ordered by teachers and other fascists to stop talking to myself, I discovered people. (I discovered booze first but that’s another day, another happy story.)
People. They talked back. They even listened. It was great. So, I fell in with other cerebrally prone, tangentially orientated individuals in places like Koshy’s, where I rediscovered coffee, my new mental manure. I wrestled my mind away from the make-believe world of literary cocktail conversations and focused on the folks in front of me. And soon, I strove to separate pleasantry from verbal weaponry and in time, I learned not to always come across like a bollocks (mainly by not using words like strove).
For a guy who never had any friends other than those in sports teams or spousal office parties, I certainly started this whole entire new vibe with the human race.
Then they went and discovered Facebook.
And more recently, they discovered cheap Androids that allow them to stay on it all the time.
I'm back to talking to myself.
Before, there was no one around to talk to. Now, no one listens. Because everyone is otherwise engaged.
I dig that there’s a wild and wonderful world that exists on the many walls of Facebook, but when you try and converse with someone who has anything of a screen with an Fb connection on it, you are but an annoyance that speaks.
How many times have you tried to talk to someone who has suddenly become absorbed in his social media, and nods politely just as you deliver your zinger of a punch line?
Mainly, I live by the principle that each generation is to its own and that technology should drive a generation; of no less importance than how the quill yielded to the moveable type and revolutionised the world of misinformation.
I also dig that while there was one-on-one conversation, it’s a verbal orgy out there now; loads of people talking to lots of others all at once.
It’s all very cool, but here’s what I am trying to figure out: How do I fit in? I’m talking to someone. I don’t have an iPad. The guy I am talking to does. He’s on Facebook and he’s tweeting, all bug-eyed and fanatical.
Every now and again, he looks up to get a small bit of what I am saying, responds briefly and gets instantly distracted by what someone else just posted online. Now, it is hard to differentiate me from one of the many people he is talking to on his iPad (or droid) but here’s the problem—I am human and I am sitting in front of him.
Comes a time when you find it is extraordinarily hard to be alone in a room with someone who is presently conversing with a bunch of other friends, in a totally different social setting. It’s like smoking. It would be great if they took it elsewhere.
One evening, my closest companions floated into the ether, connecting with “friends”, even as I tried to interest them in a heart-warming story about the pruning of pear trees. I tried for a while to get them to talk to me. I got the polite nod, the barely suppressed look of irritation at being interrupted. I even once tried stark nakedness, but not a flicker—not even one of derision. I laughed but I lost.
Since there is no social sanction for strangling those who text, tweet or post when you are talking to them, my option was to join them.
So, I settled into my reading chair, put my feet up on my ottoman, closed my eyes and sunk into my own social network. It had Woody Allen in it and Dorothy Parker and their ilk—people who had not lost interest in long form thinking.
The human that shares my living room looked up sharply and quizzically at one point. Maybe I was talking to myself again.
I was probably asking Dorothy Parker if she really had said, "I’d rather have a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy". I imagined the rude, scathing response I would receive from her to my question. It made me smile.
After all, who needs angry birds when you have Dorothy Parker?
Ramjee Chandran is Editor-in-Chief and MD of Explocity.