THROUGH THE FIRE: Electronically Speaking

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By SHARON YAMATO
(First published in
The Rafu Shimpo on November 3, 2010.)

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It continues to amaze me how dependent I’ve become on the worldwide web and the 3G network. At home, I work on my computer most of the day and probably check my email every other minute. When I’m out, I carry my iPad everywhere (and almost freaked out when I thought it was broken and I’d have to send it out for repair). I even sleep with my iPad next to my bedjust in case I have to look something up or check my incoming messages. When I’m out and don’t feel like toting the bulk of an extra one and a half pounds, I rely on my cell phone for email messages, Facebook updates, texting friends, or where to find the closest Staples. You could say (as my Significant Other does) that I am hopelessly hooked.

When I joined Facebook, I had no idea what its purpose was. Why would I need to send someone a message on Facebook when I could just email them? This “friending” thing was a real mystery to me, and I was convinced that the people with 600 friends were either demented or insanely egotistical. But as I used it more, I began to see what a great Asian American network Facebook is. I would go as far as to say that my Asian friends are the best, most consistent, and most informative Facebookers. If you want to know where to find the best bento plate, see what’s happening around Little Tokyo and parts beyond, or tidbits about local and national politics, just friend a few Asian Americans. As an added bonus, they also send the best food pictures.

I was recently in Hawaii and stayed with my Spoiled Sansei friend Brian Niiya and his way better half, Karen Umemoto. Curmudgeon that he is, Brian refuses to stoop to Facebook (never mind that I would wake up each morning to Brian sitting for hours on his laptop). Karen, always less of a spoilsport, was also not a seasoned Facebook user, but did admit to falling asleep with her iPhone. Brian insisted that he didn’t have to resort to Facebook because he would eventually hear what’s going on through his own private network.  I was the first to tell him that he was “tagged” at the Hawaii International Film Festival, which was commented upon by one of his friends. I didn’t tell him just exactly what she said, partly because I didn’t want to hurt his feelings. Figured he’d just have to join Facebook if he wanted to know.

I also used to think that bloggers were shameless self-promoters, but that opinion has also changed. I am starting to find it interesting to read what other people are thinking, saying, doing, and wishing. And I am realizing just how difficult that kind of self-revelation on a daily basis can be. It’s hard enough to write a column, but I can’t imagine writing a minute-by-minute, day-by-day account of what’s going on in my life. It was hard enough to write a journal article for Discover Nikkei), which by the way is another great way to find out what’s happening in the greater Nikkei community out there. And I happen to know they’re always looking for people who want to try this one-time shot at blogging, known also as the Discover Nikkei Journal.

Speaking of writing an article, here’s my opportunity to engage in some shameless self-promotion. Last month, thanks to graphic designer Azusa Oda and funding from the Civil Liberties Public Education Project, I was able to complete an all-new website on Michi Nishiura Weglyn, the civil rights activist whose book Years of Infamy meant so much to the Japanese American community and the redress movement. As I wrote in that article for Discover Nikkei, “Like it was yesterday, I remember the first time I picked up and started to read Michi Nishiura Weglyn’s Years of Infamy: The Untold Story of America’s Concentration Camps. After reading the first several chapters that gave a moment-by-moment description of the events leading up to the decision to incarcerate and Roosevelt’s EO 9066, I was dumbfounded. Never before had I read such a thorough, detailed account of why American citizens of Japanese descent were rounded up and put into concentration camps.” To discover that she was a costume designer for Perry Como whetted my appetite even more. With no Google back then, there was no way to get more information. Even now, eleven years since her death, Wikipedia still doesn’t have a listing for her. Hopefully, the website will change that, and I eagerly await many of you wanting to find more about this amazing woman at michiweglyn.com.

And if that isn’t enough, a special screening of “Out of Infamy,” our short documentary film on Michi Nishiura Weglyn, is showing at the Japanese American National Museum this Sunday at 2 p.m. Her good friend and great JA scholar, Art Hansen, will be there to lend his reminiscences of what she accomplished on behalf of all of us. It would be nice to see some of her old friends and acquaintances there to join in the discussion and celebration of her life. If you’re not comfortable using the worldwide web, we’ll also show you how to get onto the website and start searching. Oh, I just remembered, I’d better go now and post the screening on Facebook.

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Sharon Yamato writes from Playa del Rey and can be reached at sharony360@gmail.com.Opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.

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1 Comment

  1. Lucille Y. Honda on

    I understand that there will be an event re Michi Weglyn this Sunday at the JANM. Is the event this Sunday or was it held last Sunday?. I knew Michi Weglyn and may attend the event. Please advise.
    I just read your comments in the book “Japanese American Family” that was recently published. Enjoyed it very much. Will have to try your cake recipe. I also enjoy reading your aricles in the Rafu Shimpo.
    The recent publication “Vanished–Lompoc’s Japanese” by John McReynolds was just published. If not, I refer you to: the website “Vanishedlompocsjapanese.com” My husband, Bill Kaoru Honda used to live in Lompoc and was interviewed by John several times. Please review all the categories at the top once you get into the website. Thank You.

    Lucille Y Honda

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