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Caboose #13 The Connection Issue
by Liz Mason
8.5"x5.5", 48p, card stock fuchsia pink card stock cover, b+w on white paper inside, photocopied
Liz here! Articles in this 13th issue of Caboose have something to do with reaching out and connections: people, technology, print, conclusions. There are pieces about my experience with virtual dance parties, a discussion with a programmer who develops online karaoke software, the ludicrous revisitation of my college radio show recordings, my grade school adventures in building a media empire and more.
The theme of this issue emerged after I worked on a bunch of these pieces, at a weird time, seeing as how I wrote this issue during a pandemic, a time so alienating -- and yet I spend a great deal of time thinking about connection. I still leave my house to go to work because I work here at Quimby's, so I do get plenty of opportunities to talk to people in person. Granted, it’s not in-depth, as it rarely is when you’re helping many customers in a day, especially being separated by masks, six feet and a plastic sneeze guard where we can barely hear each other. Plus, I can’t even recognize people when they’re wearing masks!
But even still, it’s probably good for my sanity to have socialization in real life, unmediated by a screen. Plenty of folks who work from home, are unemployed or high risk, so a lot of these people aren’t out in the world as much as I am. Even on the days that I think to myself “Boy, I would sure love to stay home like everybody else,” the fact that I have to go out into the world makes me wonder if I might actually be mentally healthier because of it, no matter how stressful my job is. Many people are stir crazy on lockdown at home, but even before the pandemic, my friends that are freelancers who don’t leave their house much anyway told me that when they were forced to be out in the world, they felt like their social skills suffered from lack of use. So I guess I’m lucky that I have a job that forces me to be both out of the house and have some type of human connection and that probably keeps me mentally healthy even if it’s super stressful. I can also see how for people who previously used to being out in the world a lot and then all of the sudden weren’t; this was really hard for them too.
We all crave some kind of connection but sometimes we forget how to socially interact with people, and that’s assuming we were ever any good at it in the first place. Now we are forced to connect socially in a different way, interrupted by barriers: a computer screen, a mask that inhibits facial recognition and nonverbal cues, a physical barrier of plastic or glass -- so many things are conspiring against us to socially connect at this moment in time. These challenges are made all the more poetic by a virus that can be spread by things that accompany communication. And yet interestingly, if you’re like me, sometimes the connection we seek isn’t with people in a social way -- it’s through music, the written word, film or any kind of art. Artists and writers make things that nourish the inner life, and they often do so alone in a studio, at a desk, or in front of a computer. The truths and nuances we enjoy through these art forms create a connection that can sometimes feel deeper than what we get from socializing in person. It may be taking the long road to connection that way, but sometimes you see into the soul deeper and differently. Let’s connect by making stuff. -LM