Reghan Flynn, twenty-six, was looking at recipes and meals on Pinterest, when it struck her forcibly how ironic that was. She was taking in ideas about cooking through a medium where she could neither smell nor taste. Nor touch, for that matter.
By rough calculation, given her phone and her laptop, she figured she spent something like 4 to 6 hours a day online. That’s four-to-six hours a day where only 2 out of 5 of her senses were engaged. True, she might be drinking coffee or petting Keegan (the cat) while she browsed, but those were disconnected activities.
Maybe that’s why I feel so disconnected, she thought.
When a very, very small child is first engaging and learning about the world, they use all of their senses. The strongest memories she had (and the best ones) almost always had components of smell, and touch, and taste as part of them. But she had reduced herself, in some way, to sound and image, because those were so easily available.
And easily manipulated, she also thought.
As she sat there, pondering, she thought about Vihaan, who had been her first real love. She thought about the totality of him, how he looked, his voice, his scent, how his skin felt. When things had been good, they were very good, but his family disapproved of her, and sent him to school (and then medical school) as far away from her poor Irish family as they could manage. He had loved her, she knew, and she had loved him, but practical life had interfered, and they’d each moved on years ago.
She periodically viewed videos of him and his wife and their young twins on Facebook. So 2 of her 5 senses still had access to him. The other 3 senses were the province of his more culturally suitable wife, she mused.
She lay down on the bed where Keegan was sleeping, resting her head on his gray fur. “I guess the Internet is not really different than television was,” she said to the cat. (She had decided to continue what had been an internal monologue out loud.) “And in the days of books, sight was all there was. Just words and images. It’s not like fully realized fantasy lives used to be available on a platter.”
The cat had opened his blue eyes. He was a very clean cat, was Keegan, and unusually patient when she would rest next to him like this.
It wasn’t like she had no life, or that the life she had was bad. But she had been feeling kind of disjointed, like wherever she was, she was only kind of half-there. Her first thought was maybe she needed to change her diet; that was why she had been on Pinterest looking at recipes in the first place.
“Keegan, I think I need to make some changes.”
“Not major ones, or anything, no need to panic.”
There seemed very little danger of that on his part, as he had once again closed his eyes.
“I think I’m going to try that cooking class, the one that meets down on Olive Street.”
All that was left of his previously loud purring, was a low-level vibration.
“Well, that’s settled then.”
She got up to leave the cat sleeping on the bed. As she left the room though, she would have sworn she heard a sleepy voice saying
“And you could even put pictures of your class on Pinterest…”