One of my favorite movies of all time is Tombstone. It’s a somewhat rare genre for me to favorite, the story is not all that great, and story is what really drives me the most when it comes to movies. However, as “epic Western” it’s great.
There’s a quote from the movie that always been one of my favorite movie quotes. Doc Holiday asks Wyatt Earp “What did you want?” and Wyatt answers “Just to live a normal life” Doc responds:
There’s no normal life, Wyatt. There’s just life. You get on with it
That quote has stuck with me for a long, long, time. And I could use that particular quote to cover a multitude of topics about how we interact, how we come of age, answers that we seek in ourselves and others.
But one thing I want to apply it directly to is an ongoing misconception of the ways in which we act “online” and “offline.” Those still struggling with the changes in information dissemination and interaction that have happened with technology-mediated communication have an ongoing lament that somehow this communication is “less informed”, “less valuable”, “less real”. In fact, even those of us that have “grown into” the “online” (technology-mediated communication) world even tend to use language that excuses this, often calling that “offline” space “the real world” - as if “online” is something other than real.
Thankfully, those that have “grown up with” technology as opposed to “grown into it” don’t usually make this excuse. “Thankfully” because the future belongs to them.
The lament, of course, is foolish. Technology-mediated communication is different. As was television different than radio. And radio different than newspapers. And the telephone different than letters and hitching up the horse and buggy to drive into town. Which is of course different than marauding armies conquering nearby villages. I can carry the metaphor into all kinds of human history. But all that difference is really just different shapes and colors on top the same base way we all communicate. And as with all the methods in which human beings communicate, each carries with it benefits and drawbacks - mostly though, those don’t really matter much. Most adapt, and some lament. And that lament really is ignorance and/or prejudice and/or fear. All of which we humans are really good at when it comes to “different”.
And that’s where the words of the Tombstone Doc Holliday come back again. There is no normal life.
There’s just life.
Get on with it.