Technocrats and wonks have a very interesting way of recreating the English language, turning verbs into nouns, nouns into verbs and giant numbers into search engines.
Take the word swarm: usually a term meaning a large gathering of insects, with bees and locusts being the most swarmy of creatures in our collective memories.
SHAOYANG, CHINA – JULY 16: (CHINA OUT) Bees cover beekeeper Lu Kongjiang as he competes in a ‘bee bearding’ contest on July 16, 2011 in Shaoyang, Hunan Province of China. Wang Dalin won the contest after attracting 26.86kg of bees onto his body, covered only by a pair of shorts and swimming goggles. (Photo by ChinaFotoPress/Getty Images)
But, apparently, humans can swarm, thanks to an app, appropriately called Swarm, by Foresquare.
Let me be clear, I am in no way working for Foresquare, nor am I trying to make money for this company, but I do think the idea is somewhat ingenious. In the “good old days,” before we held phones in our hands that have more computing power than the machines that propelled NASA astronauts to the moon, we used to have to make specific dates to see and meet people. Now, this app pairs up subscribers in the same place, at the same time, so meeting up is a breeze without having to waste time on pre-event planning. In true post-industrial form, members can earn badges and coins, while competing against each other for stickers and other cyber shit.
It’s sort of a way to swarm with your own human hive, without being overrun by biblical plagues of locusts. And, the company has an adorable logo. Just saying.
I was recently on a very long trip with a large group of people, making multiple stops in many countries. So often as is the case, “Moctezuma’s revenge” hits hard and fast. Although I was with this large group, I was traveling alone. I still use the term alone right now, rather than by myself, because as someone who has been separated from my life partner for the past 2-1/2 years, I am still trying to map out who I am as a “me,” not as an “us.”
Being ill with either food poisoning or foreign amoebas is one of the most miserable experiences I think any human can endure. You know you are not going to die, but it sure feels like it.
I felt really rotten for four days. In those four days, we crossed half of the Pacific Ocean and made two stops at spectacular locations. At times, I barely had the energy to make it down to the communal area for a meal. I could have called for meals to be sent to my room, but I didn’t feel like eating, much less enjoying myself.
I was particularly feeling sorry for myself when we landed for a few days in Australia.
That first night was a heaping meal of Australian Barbie.
Courtesy, YouTube, Howcast.com
I remember really, really being in the midst of a very fulfilling pity party for myself at the dinner. I could barely eat anything, I was feeling alone amongst all of these people whom I had knows for maybe seven days and probably spouting off in my Texas-Southern passive aggressive voice when I am irritated, lonely, angry, hurt.
People came and went at the table, some giving me encouraging words. “You will feel better.” I knew they were right. Tonight, I need to start the antibiotics; I’m still just feeling too uncomfortable.
The next morning, I awoke, feeling much, much better. Down to breakfast I bounded, actually greeting people, who returned my more sunny outlook. It’s off to the Great Barrier Reef, then. I feel like snorkeling!!
While I was eating my breakfast at a table for 10 with people coming and going, a woman on the trip–a professor–who was a very terse, no nonsense woman, looked directly at me.
“I don’t know if you are the sensitive type or not, but I want to apologize to you for the way I acted around you last night. I was short with you and I am sorry,” she said, quite sincerely.
“Oh my gosh,” I told her. “I really don’t remember what you said. I am usually hyper-sensitive but this time, I guess your words did not register with me. But thank you so much for acknowledging me. Your apology is not necessary. I should be apologizing to all of you.”
“All is forgotten,” she replied. “Now let’s have a great day.”
But it’s not forgotten. I learned from that moment that to apologize for your actions, whether they were noted or not, whether the apology will be accepted or not, is part of healing. It’s part of being human and showing humanity.
It was the early 1970s and Glen Campbell and Bobbie Gentry were rocking the Pop/Country charts with “Little Green Apples” and “Let it be Me.” But one song that I always liked was “My Elusive Dreams.” Written by Billy Sherrill and Curly Putnam, it continued to be popular through the 1960s and 1970s. David Houston and Tammy Wynette recorded the most famous version, but Bobby Vinton and Charlie Rich also got in the act with their versions. Whenever I hear the word elusive, the the Campbell/Gentry version pops into my head, giving me a day-long earworm.
I do enjoy the vocal harmonies by Campbell and Gentry, but, really, people, the words are pretty lame. Nice idea, though, and certainly an argument for trying to find the gold mine in life and never quite digging in the right place.
“My Elusive Dreams”
You followed me to Texas, you followed me to Utah, We didn’t find it there so we moved on. Then you went with me to A-la-bam’, Things looked good in Birmingham, We didn’t find it there so we moved on. I know you’re tired of fol-low-ing My elusive dreams and schemes For they’re only fleeting things, My elusive dreams.
You had my child in Memphis then I heard of work in Nashville, But we didn’t find it there so we moved on. To a small farm in Nebraska, to a gold mine in Alaska, We didn’t find it there so we moved on. I know you’re tired of fol-low-ing My elusive dreams and schemes For they’re only fleeting things, My elusive dreams.
Now we’ve left A-las-ka because thewas no gold mine, But this time only two of us moved on. And now all we have is each other and a little memory To cling to and still you won’t let me go on alone. I know you’re tired of following My elusive dreams and schemes For they’re only fleeting things, My elusive dreams.