Race: Alien/Other


Talking is a very important, basic action in the universe.  In your universe, at least.

This entry is about mobile telephony, not racial issues.  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.  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.  At the very least, there is a good chance that I would choose “other”, and then only for lack of something more exotic.  Like  “utterly nonhuman”. Read on as to why.

It started a few years ago when my phone company introduced a service called “Free family”.  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.  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.  People who shack up, with or without papers, for non-reproductive reasons, meet no such sympathy from me.  They already have their reward.  There is no way I want to pay their taxes, and certainly not their mobile phone bill.  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”.  You can now call and message for free to the person you call the most. O_O  It really seems like a bad business move, but I could not find any fees this time either.  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.  This was the point where my train of thought collided head on with reality and derailed.  There are, to the best of my knowledge, no “people like me”.  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.  Thinking back, I tried to find out when I actually had friends I spent my time with. And the tentative answer is “never”.  I mean, I had my friends in the Church, and better friends you can not wish for.  But we always knew that our friendship was conditional on our religion and indeed simply an effect of that.  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.  “Friends and relatives do their best to comfort our flesh” to loosely translate one of our most beautiful songs.  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.  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.  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.  It wasn’t exactly cheap either by the standards of the day.  Telephone was a state monopoly at the time, and unimaginably bureaucratic and inefficient.  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.  And the closest I come to having friends in this world would be my couple readers.  That’s “in this world” of course, or should we say “of this world”.  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.  Except perhaps my humanity, but in this particular regard I am not sure I ever had one.  The idea of calling someone just to chat is to me… utterly alien.

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