The Song of Modem

The bad news used to hit our front doors with a whap. It was rolled into a paper log, by a paper boy, or paper girl, and flung from a bicycle, spinning and twisting through the air in all types of weather. Landing at our doorsteps. We’d retrieve those papers, in our robes and our slippers, looking out across the green lawns in our good neighborhoods. Mostly, that is gone. Those morning papers. So are cassette tapes. Car door window handles. Dial tones. Floppy discs. Gone. Among droves of other things.

The other day I was thinking about my first brush with the Internet. Way back when it was just getting its foothold. The public around these parts had not seen it yet. I was working for the library system back then, and we were going to be putting in a T1 line for the entire county of Preble.

So, our temporary connection allowed us the “preview” in our building on South Barron Street. Oh, what a thing it was.

At first, I didn’t get it. I am guessing, most likely, it was very much the same when Alexander Graham Bell was explaining the telephone to people. “Hold this part up to your ear and listen. Not speak in this part. Sam, in the next room, can hear what you say.” Like that. People were confounded. So was I.

Except, we were on the Super Highway. The World Wide Web.

Glorious. The black type on gray backgrounds, right before my very eyes.

These days, people forget how it was before. When, if we wanted to know how tall a giraffe was, we had one of two options. If we were fortunate enough to have an Encyclopedia Brittanica, we could walk to the other room, select the Volume marked HUN – GOL and find the foot and inches we were seeking. Conversely, if we only had a Dictionary and Thesaurus in our keep, we had to find a ride to the local library, during open hours, and ferret out the information there.

A male giraffe is between 16 and 20 feet tall. The female is between 13 and 16 feet tall. (This is all now at my finger tips. In my phone of all things.)

Wouldn’t it be funny if a 13 foot female was dating a 20 foot male, and they went out for dinner? They would have to find an in-between tree. But I bet their kids would be adorable. Which, would really be quite a giant when it was born. A baby giraffe weighs 150 pounds and stands six feet tall when it drops out of its mother’s womb. And it truly drops. Five feet from the womb to the ground. But do not worry. Within 10 hours, a baby giraffe is running. With all the giraffes in the pack. Which is really called a “tower” of giraffes. (All of this, again, just a click away, in an instant. On that World Wide Web.)

We are a society of instant gratification, I am afraid. It has come to that. There is no waiting any more, and when we are asked to wait, we churn. We sizzle.

During the very first days of the Internet, we had to connect with a modem. Oh, that glorious modem song it played every time it attached us to the digital world. We would sit in front of clunky monitors and wait, while blurry text documents found clarity, right before our eyes.  That past is gone.

Now it is fast. Furious, sometimes. The world is turning furious, and fuming, and hopping mad, it seems. And, I am struck by the fact that the more information which seems to be available, the more people display a level of ignorance, or incomprehension. Often times, anger.

And then. On occasion, it is simply, simply, unbelievable. I had to take a screen-shot of a Tweet I saw. Here it is.

People, the news is bad.
We are on a sinking ship.


“You realize that our mistrust of the future makes it hard to give up the past.”
― Chuck Palahniuk, Survivor


“The past is never where you think you left it.”
― Katherine Anne Porter


“Your past is always your past. Even if you forget it, it remembers you.”
― Sarah Dessen, What Happened to Goodbye