Increasingly, I find myself competing against my Macintosh for the attention of my lovely thirteen year old daughter. As someone who grew up in the era before computers were part of daily lives, it is easier for me to divorce myself from the constant companionship of technology. Heck, I can remember when a long distance call required assistance from a telephone operator and buying an answering machine was exciting. But the computer is pervasive in a middle schooler’s life today, used for homework assignments and “conversations” with friends (that used to tie up the phone lines and create busy signals and competition for usage of the phone.)
My daughter has found a usage for the computer that I do find thrilling. By becoming a super fan of a very talented singer and songwriter she discovered on You Tube and Radio Disney named Savannah Outen, Danielle has found an international community of friendly girls. In the old days, I craved to have an exciting pen pal who would send me letters packed with interesting tidbits about their lives. Unfortunately, none of those relationships developed beyond a couple of letters. Today, my daughter can instantly communicate with kindred spirits who are equally devoted to Savannah in Norway, Spain, Germany, Morocco, and even the West Bank, to name a few. They discovered each other as Savannah fans on the internet, via fan websites they each created. The layers of their communication increased over time, adding twitter accounts for their fan sites, communicating with Savannah during her real-time chats with fans, and in my daughter’s case, actually meeting Savannah in Los Angeles several times and interviewing her (and meeting her dad). By virtue of her VIP fan status, Danielle was allowed backstage for a “Meet and Greet” when Savannah had a concert in Los Angeles. By actually meeting Savannah, my daughter and her equally devoted friend, have achieved royalty status amongst Savannah fans. This international network of friends has united to compete in contests to demonstrate their devotion to Savannah, such as poems or videos, and often have web chat conversations across the time zones. I’ve “met” many of her friends this way, by walking in her room during the web chats. (Amazingly her friend in Norway, has a room remarkably similar in appearance to my daughter’s in Los Angeles). Danielle was able to discuss volcanic ash, with a description from Sigrid, her Norwegian friend. This group of girls has exchanged holiday cards (Danielle introduced them to Chanukah) and small gifts by mail and contest winners have received autographed Savannah photos. Savannah Outen Spain and her counterpart in Norway, have already met during vacation. Luckily, Savannah is truly a lovely girl who appreciates her fans and relies on them when she needs support. One super fan has over 3,000 photos of Savannah on her computer and has bought some clothing of hers that were in a charity auction.
So now I’m not so upset about her spending time at the computer, making new friends around the world. But what am I going to do now about all this texting?!