WILL UNWOUND #615: “Willy the Worm”November 21, 2011
I had an interesting phone conversation with my mother this morning.
Apparently she went to the DMV to get her driver’s license renewed and surprise, surprise she waited in line all day. ”The worst part of it, Will, is that there was no one to talk to.”
“But, Mom,” I responded, “if the line was as long as you say, there must have been plenty of people to talk to.”
Her answer was quite insightful: “There was no one to talk to because they were all looking down at their palms and twiddling their thumbs. I think they call it texting.”
I got thinking about that and Mom raises a good issue: do our communication gadgets keep us from communicating with each other face to face?
Think about the ramifications of that. What is the future, for instance, of love at first sight if the person in front of you is of no interest to you because you are too busy with your ithingy?
Or how about your prospects of being “discovered” working a soda fountain in Hollywood if every major director and producer is too busy twittering to take notice of your green eyes, auburn hair, pixyish smile, and alluring voice?
Or let’s get more library centric. Every MLS newbie turns on the charm and the creativity to get attention at the ALA Placement Center every summer at the annual conference. Sure, the “I Will Be Your Slave” tee shirt that you designed just for the convention is an eye-catcher but only in a world where real people take precedence over virtual ones.
So what’s a newbie to do? The answer is obvious: get rid of the tee shirt and get creative with Twitterisms instead.
Now back to Mom and the DMV. One of life’s tortures is moving to a new state and spending all day in line at the DMV to get your new driver’s license. Four years ago when I moved to California, I thought I would give the dour DMV staff something to laugh about. So when I filled out the application form I had some fun with the question: What other names have you used in the past? I proceeded to list some the nicknames that I have been called since grade school: Manhole Cover, Zip, and Willy the Worm. When I got to the front of the line, the service clerk looked at my application and said: “What is this?” and pointed to my nicknames. ”These are all names that I have been called in the past,” I responded with a smile.
She promptly called up security and it took me 20 minutes to explain that I was not a) trying to give staff a hard time, b) in need of psychological counseling, and c) a threat to the vehicular traffic on the highways and biways of California.
Moral of the Story: Sometimes, Mom, you’re better off just texting away the minutes rather than trying to be a comedian at the DMV.