Where Are You?
Are you alone?
How far is the nearest person to you?
Are you reading this at leisure or sneaking a peek at work?
What sounds can you hear?
Can you hear your friends or colleagues talking, discussing or gossiping?
Can you hear anything which is 'natural' - birds twittering, the rustle of leaves?
Can you hear the sounds of a city - traffic, folk twittering on their phones, vendors' street cries, loud music blaring from emporia, or the distorted calls to prayer from local mosques?
'Er Indoors is talking to her sister in the kitchen.
Our Kid is in his room playing a computer game.
I can barely hear 'Er Indoors, but I can hear loud Japanese pop music which Our Kid is singing along to, offkey.
I can hear motorbikes and street vendors passing by and the somewhat annoying constant hum of my 'new' computer.
I can also hear sirens and loud traffic noise which, considering we live on a fairly quiet back street, at first puzzled me. It emanates from the game Our Kid is playing - Death Race 3000 or some such.
It would appear from a lecture on the mindset of the city given last week by Fransisco Budi Hardiman from the Driyarkara School of Philosophy that we are not the norm.
"Jakarta is paralyzed when it comes to socializing. Our ability to socialize is fading. We are no longer considered a collective entity, but merely a sum of individuals. Whether you like it or not, that's the reality."
Actually, he was referring more to me and my kind because, he said, "Facebook, blogs and modern communication technologies are creating virtual environments where users feel they are constantly building relationships with one another, but are actually never meeting in person."
I don't know about "constantly", but I do know a teenage lass who claims to have 1,000 'friends' on Facebook.
"People may boast on blogs but be quite inward in the real world, or be disconnected from a social setting or crowd through the connectivity of online social networks.
"That's the way a large chunk of Jakarta's population communicate nowadays."
At this point, may I reiterate - with a 'thank you' to the many folk who've invited me to join My Place, Mugshots, Mates'ter, Blurb, Splurge and all the social networks of that ilk - that this blog is a way of expressing my concerns and interests as well as being an 'archive' for future generations of my clan with the notion that absence might make their hearts grow fonder. So you may feel free to add me to your list of 'friends', but please don't expect me to reciprocate unless we've met face-to-face.
And that might prove difficult.
As Professor Fransisco says, "The city space also plays a role in fostering new modes of communication. People are feeling more and more confined by the limitations of the city spaces."
People should be able to create their own spaces or make use of the existing ones for their own social activities, he said. He also recommended that the city's next spatial planning program, which would be applied next year, should accommodate a lot of open and green spaces in the city, such as gardens.
"It requires participation from the public, especially activists, to encourage more people to use open spaces for their activities because currently, many of them are just being neglected."
And neglect is the theme of a series of posts I'm tagging as Social Spatiality.
Labels: Social Spatiality