Friday, March 1, 2013

Worry Sources

Today's Ten Thousand Questions question:
Which do you worry about most: money issues, relationship conflicts, or potentially embarrassing social situations?
For me, it's relationship conflicts, no contest. I can shrug off social embarrassments as ultimately meaningless, and I feel confident that I can solve the money questions that arise in my life through information, intelligence and effort. But relationship conflicts--no matter how much effort I put in, there is no guarantee of anything working out.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Robot love

From an article on the changing attitudes toward robots and consequently toward humans:
Children, in turn, play with more and more robotic and electronic toys. Many, like the Tamagotchi digital pets of the 1990s, and the later robotic dog Aibo, require nurturing, which encourages kids to take care of them, and therefore, to care about them. Some kids say they prefer these pets to real dogs and cats that can grow old and die.
"People used to buy pets to teach their children about life and death and loss," Turkle said. We are now teaching kids that real living creatures are risky, while robots are safe.
Also, this:
In her interviews with people of many ages and backgrounds, Turkle has found that many now are coming to fantasize about robots that could serve as friends who would always listen to us, who would never become angry, who would never disappoint.
"What are we talking about when we're talking about robots? We're talking about our fears of each other," she said. "Our disappointments with each other. Our lack of community. Our lack of time."
This is technology as a replacement for character. With sophisticated enough tools, we won't feel the pains of our lack of patience, compassion, love.

It brings to mind a (favorite) C.S. Lewis quote:
To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. [Instead, get a Tamagochi!] Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries [such as robot-"friends"]; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.
God willing, when I have kids, they will have real pets that scratch and bite if you hold them wrong; shed fur everywhere; chew through your computer cables if you leave them in the wrong spot; sit on the couch with you and eat from your hand at the dinner table; and don't require batteries. My kids will have paper books, which have weight and texture and can be lent to friends. They will not watch TV every day. They will eat vegetables, and not know what french fries are or what coca-cola tastes like. They will be vulnerable and they will learn real love.


Hazel is better! Thank God. After a week of not touching his pellets, he has finally started eating them again--although it seems cardboard is tastier to him at present. I put the egg carton he was munching on back into the recycling bin so he wouldn't swallow too much of it, but he kept fishing it back out, and even took it into his cage.

At sunset, I was curled up on the couch, taking a nap. I woke to the sound of Hazel demolishing yet another cardboard box. A second after I lay back down, plop! Hazel dropped onto the couch, in the curve of my body. What a delight! It had been a week since he jumped onto the couch, and he had never before placed himself in a spot where he would be so easily grab-able. Initially alert, with enough ear-rubs and back-scratching, he closed his eyes. Resting his chin on my arm, he snuggled down into the blanket and leaned against me.

It was a moment of pure tranquility. Looking into those beautiful rabbit eyes just inches from my own felt strangely like looking into the face of God. Blasphemous? I don't mean it to be. God spoke through a donkey's voice once; he can speak through a rabbit's face. In that twilit moment, the rabbit was the face of peace and trust. All the wrestling to force the antibiotics down his throat hadn't ended his affection for me. In this time when O. is so far away, I am not alone. God even provided me with a cuddling partner!