Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Rewriting Tradition

I was recently contacted by someone in Ireland who is doing her Masters Thesis on the ways social media might reduce oldler people's experience of social exclusion. I am an "older person" who uses social media so I was the kind of person she was looking for, as was Jon, a very funny guy whom I know from That's My Answer. The author of the thesis let me read a copy of her rough draft and I was surprisesd to discover that both Jon and I have our own sections in the work. His section is titled "Blogger, Jonathan Hemlock," and mine is "Social Networker, Bev Sykes." Heady stuff.

While the thesis doesn't really relate directly to what I want to write here, it did get me thinking about how the internet and social media are changing our lives and how we are all in the process of recreating different ways of doing what we have done all of our lives.

I saw a Hallmark card commercial today. It's for Mother's Day and it shows a woman opening a drawer and taking out a collection of cards she has received from her child over the years on Mother's day. The tag line was something along the lines of "this year give Mom something she can hold in her hand." I remember when greeting cards cost less than $1 and could be mailed for 10 cents. Now cards can run you up to $5 or more and postage is nearly $1. Is it any wonder that we have turned to e-cards instead of "something she can hold in her hand."

I felt guilty when I started sending our annual Christmas letter by e-mail (and then making a web page and sending a LINK instead), but now I see that others are beginning to follow suit, especially as postage continues to rise higher and higher and sending Christmas cards becomes more of a luxury than it used to be.

We are even in the process of redefining our customs surrounding death. I've now been on the internet long enough to have gone through several deaths, some of face to face friends, some of people I've never met. I remember the "death watch" The Last Session group had, as Dick Remley was dying. Dickie's death may have been my first "internet death." I knew him face to face, as did many of the mourners, but also many only knew him through e-mail and Steve's diary. There was this sense of frustration, being unable to join together in a group hug, to attend a memorial service all together in the same room, but instead we posted messages in a yahoo group and those of us who did go to the memorial service reported on it to those who were unable to attend.

Since Dickie died, there have been other deaths. I remember when blogger Denver Doug died and how we all posted memories on the guestbook of his blog. I remember when vlogger Dougri committed suicide and the shockwave went through the YouTube community. Just a month ago came the news of our friend Merrell's sudden death and the coming together of our community to join electronically in remembering her life.

I didn't have the huge internet community when Paul died (and especially not when David died), so there was no "internet memorial" at the time, but it's been interesting, and quite touching, the new tradition that has formed.

After my sister died (at the same age David was when he died), my mother and I talked on the phone every year on the anniversary of her death for a lot of years. We didn't necessarily talk about Karen, but we always called each other on September 13. I still call her on September 13, but she no longer realizes that this is why I'm calling.

Since so many people who knew our kids have joined Facebook, now each year around midnight of April 19, people start changing their facebook photos.

Paulicon1.jpg (1743 bytes)Jessica was the first this year, posting this photo of Paul, which many of us (me included) also used as our profile pictures. Many added the enigmatic comment "FTS," which, as anybody who understands, knows refers to Paul's comment, which was reprinted on the program at his memorial and is also on the grave marker which he shares with Dave. I told the story in my entry last year.

PauliconNed.jpg (1312 bytes)Ned changed his profile picture to this rather strange photo. It's from the party that the Lawsuit group had after the memorial service, and is one of a number of Poloroid photos taken that night which contain this green disfiguration. We like to believe it was Paul's spirit attending the party, since the camera had not done this strange thing in all the years of its use before this party, nor has it done it since.

PauliconMyv.jpg (1840 bytes)Myv used this profile picture, which is one of my favorite pictures of Paul in concert, at the Whole Earth festival at UC Davis. (In the large size picture you can see my mother standing on the balcony in the upper right corner)

Jeri posted her annual comment about Paul on this date. Few made a big deal about the anniversary, but we all felt this common bond. We all knew and we all sent out coded signals like a group hug. Whether you were feeling sad or angry or empty, we were all remembering together, whether we were in Davis or on the other side of the country.

As for Walt and me, we are continuing our search for a sushi place to to replace Osaka Sushi. On the recommendation of a couple of people on Facebook, we decided to go to a restaurant called Moshi Moshi in South Davis.

First we stopped to buy flowers and then drove out to the cemetery. While there, I noticed that the Bunfill family certainly is ostentatious.

Bunfill.jpg  (48991 bytes)

Though the name is familiar, I'm not really sure who they are (or were), but the graves definitely are all you notice when you drive into the cemetery. The three benches along the edge of the grass are also engraved with the Bunfill name, and there is a third grave site, to the left of this photo with a large "Bunfill" engraved on it. Sadly, everyone currently buried in any of these graves died younger than either Walt or myself.

But anyway, then we went on to Moshi Moshi, a little hole in the wall place which we noticed right away was different from other sushi places where we'd eaten because it had its own combination of ingredients and its own name for things. When I saw this item on the menu, I obviously had to order it.

ZeroSushi.jpg (22366 bytes)

It turned out to be delicious and is the stuff topped with avocado in the foreground of this photo. (There was raw tuna and celery inside)

MoshiDinner.jpg (50198 bytes)

Moshi is also the only sushi place that has the distinction of offering Tiramisu for dessert!!!

MoshiTiramisu.jpg (47406 bytes)

We will probably return here. I really liked the quality of the sushi, though, as we had been warned, it was a bit more "spendy" than some other places.

So Paul has been remembered for another year and in a month we'll do it all over again for David's ... god ... fourteenth anniversary. It doesn't seem possible. But then the rest of the year, from May 18 to when the holidays start in November is free and clear without emotional family entanglements!


Lydia said...

nice blog & good artwork. You have beautifully maintained it, you must try this website which really helps to increase your traffic. hope u have a wonderful day & awaiting for more new post. Keep Blogging!

harrietv said...

The most recent issue of AARP magazine had a section on whether to send e-cards or paper cards. (I mentioned some of this in a recent post:
as some people do not use e-mail.) Anyone with a bit of sensitivity can figure out -- at least I thought they could -- that you send a paper card if it's a sympathy message.

jon said...


Finally....some recognition for what we are!!!!


But I am still honored to be part of her thesis.

Kwizgiver said...

How fun to be part of a thesis! I agree with you that we are rewriting traditions. There are plenty of times I want a card to hold in my hands, yet I don't save all of them.