Living in a pedestrian city it's easy to see how people use technology to insulate themselves. I'm talking about cellphones and ipods. The latter is a simple form of isolation-- the apple commercials play it out perfectly, silhouettes on a single color. There is no context, only a generalized idea of one. Cellphones are slightly more complicated. I passed by a woman crying on a park bench last night. Had she been pretty enough I probably would have asked her what was wrong. This shallow presupposition was pre-empted, however, by the fact that she was crying on the phone. This is obviously a different way to shut out your surroundings and neighbors, by keeping in close emotional contact with someone else far away. It's a displacement, not a shield. That being said, it's hard to meet people in a city where everyone has a four-inch talkative friend on their shoulder.
When I went out last night I forgot my keys. By the time I got back John had fallen asleep. I had to pee. Bad. So I went to a bar around the corner, just lame enough that only two compulsively lonely people and a bored bartender were there. I struck up a conversation with two of them (the transvestite poet left when I sat down). After getting two life stories that started off maudlin and got progressively more so, I emerged with very contradictory emotions. First and foremost I felt alone. I felt more alone talking to those two than I do camping in the middle of the desert; I felt divorced from myself, from my future. That being said, I also felt very powerfully the fact that a person lives behind every window on every upper floor, and that they have selves and futures as well. Ghostlike, if I want to be dramatic about it. Anyway, I leaned on the buzzer and John let me in. I felt sick all day today.