Baron Dave Romm (barondave) wrote,
Baron Dave Romm
barondave

Pip the Geek

As it turns out, people don't change very much. The reaction to a new technology (or at least tech which is new to them) is pretty similar no matter when it was or what the tech is.

As a fan who began his fannish career typing fanzines on ditto while my college roommate Frank Balazs did the same, I encountered disparaging remarks on how weird fans were. Instead of talking to the people in the room, you wrote them mailing comments. You might be responding to something they wrote months ago, and your roommate might not see your reply for months.

More recently, people text/Twitter/Facebook to/about people in the same room. I hear the same disparaging things. Often said with a twinkle, to be sure, as the speaker is most likely to have done the same. Still, it got old fast.

And to show you how old: While reading Charles Dickens Great Expectations (Chapter 7), written in 1867, I came across the following. The type of social media interaction is almost identical 150 years later. Of course, I'm reading the book on a Kindle, making the anachronism even more pronounced:

One night, I was sitting in the chimney-corner with my slate, expending great efforts on the production of a letter to Joe. I think it must have been a fully year after our hunt upon the marshes, for it was a long time after, and it was winter and a hard frost. With an alphabet on the hearth at my feet for reference, I contrived in an hour or two to print and smear this epistle:

"MI DEER JO i OPE U R KR WITE WELL i OPE i SHAL SON B HABELL 4 2 TEEDGE U JO AN THEN WE SHORL B SO GLODD AN WEN i M PRENGTD 2 U JO WOT LARX AN BLEVE ME INF XN PIP."

There was no indispensable necessity for my communicating with Joe by letter, inasmuch as he sat beside me and we were alone. But, I delivered this written communication (slate and all) with my own hand, and Joe received it as a miracle of erudition.

"I say, Pip, old chap!" cried Joe, opening his blue eyes wide, "what a scholar you are! An't you?"

"I should like to be," said I, glancing at the slate as he held it: with a misgiving that the writing was rather hilly.

"Why, here's a J," said Joe, "and a O equal to anythink! Here's a J and a O, Pip, and a J-O, Joe."

I had never heard Joe read aloud to any greater extent than this monosyllable, and I had observed at church last Sunday when I accidentally held our Prayer-Book upside down, that it seemed to suit his convenience quite as well as if it had been all right. Wishing to embrace the present occasion of finding out whether in teaching Joe, I should have to begin quite at the beginning, I said, "Ah! But read the rest, Jo."

"The rest, eh, Pip?" said Joe, looking at it with a slowly searching eye, "One, two, three. Why, here's three Js, and three Os, and three J-O, Joes in it, Pip!"

I leaned over Joe, and, with the aid of my forefinger, read him the whole letter.

"Astonishing!" said Joe, when I had finished. "You ARE a scholar."
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