You’ve Got Mail

Wednesday night while the “world” was watching game one of the World Series, I was watching the 1998 movie You’ve Got Mail.  It’s an old favorite of mine, starring Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan. 

For me, it really captures a time in my life when I was first introduced to the internet somewhere around 1997.  I took a computer class in college around that time, but was restricted to the limitations of university email and password coded computer access.  A new roommate around that time introduced me to AOL 4.0 on his home computer, set me up with an email account of my own, and the rest is history I guess if you can consider 14 years ago as being that historical.

I spent most of my online beginnings, like everyone else around that time, in local chatrooms.  When AOL would crash, I would troll the magazine section in bookstores for those free installation disks. Sometimes I miss those all too familiar sounds of dial up connecting to the internet and of course, those infamous three little words…You’ve Got Mail.  I don’t miss the slow connection though!

As for the movie, it also holds a dear place in my heart because it’s about books and bookstores and reflects a war that’s still going on even today as tiny little bookstores strive to stay above water while the big bag internet with its cheap discounts and free shipping is forcing them out of business.

I sometimes miss those online anonymous connections I had back in the day with various strangers who I assumed were being truthful about who they were.  But people loved to chat. 

Not anymore. 

We’re too busy texting and Facebooking to be chatting these days. And if we are chatting, we’re all looking to hook up these days.  Sure, back then people often took it off line and met with sexual intentions, but I remember a few quality dates that stemmed from AOL chatrooms where sex wasn’t the way the night ended.

Sadly, I find it’s harder to connect with people these days at all, even online.  We’ve cocooned ourselves, and built Firwalls around our computers because we are afraid of serial killers, internet predators, and identity thieves. The one thing, the computer, that was supposed to connect us has torn us apart even more and made us more afraid to connect with anyone.  So instead, we all sit at home on our computers alone, playing Farmville and thinking of savvy comments to make on Facebook so our friends will “like” us.

Like Kathleen Kelly says in the movie when she is in a restaurant with Frank and they realize they don’t love each other anymore, “There is the dream of someone.”  I dream of the time when writing letters was in fashion and personal ads in the classifieds were fun.

And sure, email came along and made it even easier to find those secretive connections, but for what it’s worth, it also made it worse.  Heck, we can’t even embrace capital letters and proper punctuation these days.  We’re too busy driving and texting to worry about good grammar. 

We are too busy. 

Too busy too connect despite being so eagerly dependent upon the very technology that connects all of us in the first place.  We get all our bills paperless now because we want to save trees, but instead we are killing the U.S. Postal Service.

Even Twitter makes us narrow down what we have to say to 140 characters or less.

If things are this fast now, so fast that we don’t have time to write a letter and mail it, much less text or tweet a complete sentence, where will we be in another 17 years?  Will they even teach capitalizaton and cursive writing (or writing at all?) in public schools?  Or will they teach emoticons and proper abbreviations instead?  WTF!

And how will the generation of tomorrow get laid find meaningful and exciting relationships like Joe and Kathleen in You’ve Got Mail?  Chatrooms and Craigs List will be long gone by then. 

I don’t know the answers to my questions, but I weep for the generation that has to find out.  I weep for my generation, because even those days for us are almost over.

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