“Your need for communication was served without your having to risk any real intimacy. That is why it became such an obsession. because you need the communication. I think, and I have told the family the same thing, that it’s fine to enjoy that radio, but you must put it into balance with the rest of your life.”
The speaker is Dr. Hooper, a psychiatrist who has been asked to meet with Walter Brinkman, a recently retired industrialist with serious esteem issues. (He has already tried to commit suicide.) His well-meaning but controlling daughter, Barbara, is worried that her father’s obsession with his ham radio may be his way of dealing with the recent loss of his wife of thirty years.
Substitute the words “weblog” or “Internet” or the phrase “social media” for “radio” and these lines from Anne Rosner’s 1981 short story “Prize Tomatoes” suddenly become eerily relevant.
But then the issues raised by Ms. Rosner in this compelling piece of fiction will always be timely as long as there are people dealing with the loss of loved ones. over identifying with the roles cast upon by them by their professions and struggling to find something to replace them in the wake of sudden retirement and/or prolonged periods of unemployment in one’s chosen field.