Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Click - Send - Kenbe La (3x)

As I prepare for my first trip to Haiti in five years, I’m already being reminded of one of the predicaments that technological disparities between my relatives in Haiti and my family in the States. Usually, whenever I’m in Haiti I take a slew of pictures. Then upon my return to the US, I develop these pictures. More often than not copies of these pictures make their way back to my relatives in Haiti. Sometimes a relative or friend traveling there brings them back, and other times, usually after much delay, I’ll walk them over to post office and mail them myself. This all sounds fairly simple and quaintly 20th century.

In fact it is very simple and very 20th century. No one has ever complained, even when once it took me a year to mail back the pictures. After a conversation with a friend last night I realized this year I might have a larger problem than my swift as molasses approach to the mailbox. Since I’m now the owner of a snazzy new digital camera that enables me to instantly see my picture taking follies, I no longer have to wait to see how my photos came out. I’m also able to prop said digital captures on flickr, kodakgallery, shutterfly or a host of other sites so my trendy friends can take a gander. This is all good when I’m lampin’ in the bay or making my way through various NY functions, but what good does this techno leap forward on my part do for my little cousins or aunts in Haiti who only care to see how they look.

The cousins who are in their teens/early twenties have access to the net at school and will spend an occasional afternoon in an internet café googling their crazy cousin in the US who’s supposedly writing a book.

Wait, just burn a cd and send them the pictures on disk you say? That would work except for the fact that there’s not a home computer to be found in the house.

I’d send down a laptop, but I’d actually have to send down for sets to make it clear that I’m not playing favorites…so we can scratch that idea as well.

Oh wait. Don’t worry your hearts. Don’t rush and take pity on my poor beleaguered Haitian clan because we’re neither poor—on occasion beleaguered—but that too soon passes. Please do not attempt to do anything in Haiti that you have yet felt moved to do in many of this nation’s ramshackle communities.

My problem, if it can be categorized as such, is that after my trip I’ll still have to walk over to the post office and mail out those pictures. I’ll have to take more than five seconds of my time to think about my loved one. I’ll have to sacrifice a few less than sterling photos to save a few cents on shipping, and to spare my aunt of curling her lips when she gets an unflattering shot of either herself or one of her children.

I guess it really ain’t a problem at all that in my otherwise click and send world, I am still blessed with opportunities to think, move slowly and write and sign an occasional note with kenbe la.


Anonymous said...

Ahhh I feel ya! My relatives still need the actual picture. Perhaps you can invest on one of those Kodak photo printers. Print the pics while you are in Haiti while sitting eating your Griot et Banan. You can just hand over the fresh print:-) Just a thought....

MF said...

Indeed I have faced the same predicament with not only my Jamiacan relatives, but my parents who don't themselves use the internet. But never fear. All those new fangled web galleries like kodak, shutterfly etc. allow you to print copies and have them in your mailbox within days!!
Though I suppose this is not as much the point of this post, as is the recognition of the vast digital divide that exists in this world. Plus the ackowledgement that we tend to be on the side of the divide that has access and because of this, have cultivated an aversion to reaching out to each other in non-digital ways. After all the extra steps that are involved in developing pictures and sending them by snail mail, the kind of mail most of this world still relies on, would not have been considered extra effort just several years ago.