Talking is a very important, basic action in the universe. Â In your universe, at least.
This entry is about mobile telephony, not racial issues. Â But just for the context, rest assured that Norwegian census data do not include the concept of “race”, and hopefully never will. I get the impression that in the USA this is actually a required field, which makes no sense since people there can have any number of ethnicities in their immediate ancestry. There is probably some ticky box for that too. Â But here at least it would be considered unspeakably rude (and probably illegal) to register someone’s “race” anywhere. Also, it would probably be sabotaged. Â At the very least, there is a good chance that I would choose “other”, and then only for lack of something more exotic. Â Like Â “utterly nonhuman”. Read on as to why.
It started a few years ago when my phone company introduced a service called “Free family”. Â It allows you to call and message a reasonable number of family members for free. To the best of my knowledge there is not even a flat fee. Which means, unless they get their profit from the Tooth Fairy or some such, people like me pay for other people’s family. Â Now, as I believe I have said before, I am not opposed to paying for families, at least reproductive units. Their children are my pension, after all. Â People who shack up, with or without papers, for non-reproductive reasons, meet no such sympathy from me. Â They already have their reward. Â There is no way I want to pay their taxes, and certainly not their mobile phone bill. Â Unfortunately the other main (as in not liable to suddenly go into bankruptcy) phone company has the same system.
Today I got the cheerful and photo-illustrated mail from my phone company that they have introduced yet another service: “Best friend”. Â You can now call and message for free to the person you call the most. O_O Â It really seems like a bad business move, but I could not find any fees this time either. Â And I was again slightly miffed, because unless they get their profit from the Tooth Fairy or something, it means people like me are paying for people who have friends.
Wait a minute. Â This was the point where my train of thought collided head on with reality and derailed. Â There are, to the best of my knowledge, no “people like me”. Â Having a family and/or friends is universal for the human race, certainly for anyone coherent enough to actually use a telephone.
You know, even when I considered myself having a best friend, it was someone I talked to perhaps once a month, and saw perhaps twice a year. Â Thinking back, I tried to find out when I actually had friends I spent my time with. And the tentative answer is “never”. Â I mean, I had my friends in the Church, and better friends you can not wish for. Â But we always knew that our friendship was conditional on our religion and indeed simply an effect of that. Â Sympathy and antipathy were both reviled and usually in the same breath.
This may sound like a bad thing, but you have to understand that the Church was essentially a mystic university. Left to themselves, virtually all people will pick friends who prop up their ego: Their prejudices, their habits, their existing worldview. Â “Friends and relatives do their best to comfort our flesh” to loosely translate one of our most beautiful songs. Â Presumably Jesus did not pick his original disciples based on whether they enjoyed hanging out together, either.
Even back then, I never called anyone just to chat, as far as I can remember. Â It has been a long time, and “never” is a strong word, but this is how I remember it, and I seem less likely to rewrite my past than most people. (I have written journals going back to the early 1980es actually, so I think I have some authority in saying so. They largely concur with my memories, except the person writing the journal was more confused, afraid and narrowminded than I am today. And purer of heart, although I am not sure it was a good thing since it took the form of not seeing my real nature, but it was a necessary thing at the time. But enough about that.)
As a child, I was chatty at times, but not on the phone. That kind of luxury was beyond us. Â The telephone was for necessary communications. We shared a line with four neighboring farms, so you did not bind up the line for no good reason. Â It wasn’t exactly cheap either by the standards of the day. Â Telephone was a state monopoly at the time, and unimaginably bureaucratic and inefficient. Â On the bright side, they did offer some form of phone service even to remote farms on the edge of the wilderness.
Anyway, today I am this person who only uses a telephone in emergency or nearly so. And the chattiest I get is these journal entries. Â And the closest I come to having friends in this world would be my couple readers. Â That’s “in this world” of course, or should we say “of this world”. Â I am hardly to be pitied; for I can call my invisible friend at any time of night and day, and it does not cost me anything. Â Except perhaps my humanity, but in this particular regard I am not sure I ever had one. Â The idea of calling someone just to chat is to me… utterly alien.