Communication Technology Changes Everything

July 11, 2012.
   Todays communication technology gives us so much; but what does it take away?  The way people and the world communicate with each other in this day and age is truly amazing.  And I was impressed, oh so many years ago, when I opened my first email account and accessed it with my commodore 64 computer and a 1200 baud modem.
   I remember when only a rich person could afford a cell phone.  They were as big as an old World War II walkie-talkie.  As time passed and they got smaller and less expensive, I got my first one.  Then I got my first flip phone and I thought – How cool is this? –  It’s just like Star Trek and the communicators Captain Kirk used to request a beam up.  Very neat.
   As time passed, my house phone was used less and less and eventually, I dropped it and have only a cell phone.  I mean, why pay long distance when I can call for free on my cell.  A lot of young people today don’t even know what long distance is.
   All this new “to me” technology really made things a lot easier.  Breaking down on the road, not a problem any more; just call for help on the cell.  The latest weather, news, my wife and I being able to get a hold of each other instantly, even finding the way to an address in a city you’ve never been to are all easily accomplished with todays modern equipment.  And lets not forget the millions of trees which have been saved since email came along.  Definitely a plus!  These are all good things todays fast paced way of communicating with one another as given us.
   But has it taken away anything?  Is there a built-in penalty to all this faster, quicker, instant info and connections which we have all become so use to?  I think in some ways there is.
    Here is one right off the top of my head…  In the old days, like 10 or 15 years ago, if someone was trying to reach me, even if it was an important message they would call my home.  I would check my answering machine when I got home and call the person back.  This was the standard.  The acceptable standard of getting a hold of someone.  Now a days though, I have had more than one person actually get angry at me because they couldn’t get a hold of me instantly, even if it wasn’t an emergency.  Apparently, owning one of these devices means I should be available 24/7.  What the heck did they do before I had a cell?  I smile and take the good with the bad in this regard.
   Here is another minor irritation, or pet peeve if you:  Every one of these devices has a camera.  And todays cell phones and tablets have very good ones with zoom and even video.  This is great if you want your picture taken; or if you want to see a picture instantly.  Who wouldn’t want to see a picture of their grand child on their birthday, blowing out their birthday candles moments after it happens 10 states away?  We all love that part of it.  One thing I don’t care for though  is when people act like the paparazzi, snapping pictures of me at a party or some other scene in which I am un-aware, un-prepared and yes, sometimes even unwilling to have my image recorded.  It’s not very much fun to find an unflattering picture of yourself being posted on Face Book or some other social media.
There is one thing though which I don’t like at all about todays faster, faster, faster communication technology:  The way it is affecting a lot of our young people.  Here is an example… many of the young people of todays world, (And even some older ones.) think that apologizing to someone on a social media web site or by text messaging is the same as apologizing to that person in person.  Let me tell you it is not!  It takes guts to walk up to someone you have offended, stick out your hand and say, “I am sorry.”  It’s not the same just to text them and say your sorry.  It carries more weight and is more sincere.  It is a character lesson which is being lost, and that’s not good.
   Another thing is the US Mail.  How nice (and rare) it is these days to receive a card or a letter in the US Mail.  It is an actual physical piece of paper which one can save forever and maybe even pass down.  Love letters have become a thing of the past between young people.  Will the decades and century’s forward ever find a grandson cleaning out an attic of his grand mother and finding all the love letters saved which were written to her by that grandson’s grand father?  Will the history of how they met and the passion of their love be lost in the electronic space we call the internet, never to be discovered or passed on?  I fear it will.
   Eight days ago the New York Times wrote an article about the closing of many post offices and how it affects so many.  You can find the article here:
With Cuts on the Way, Postal Service Customers Already Bemoan Delays
   This article speaks of businesses, but in a future where mail is becoming more and more rare, will sending a hand written thank you note through the US Mail become a thing of the past?  Will my grandson’s grandchild ever get a Birthday card in the mail?  I hope so.
   I guess what I am saying is all these advances in technology are great, but maybe we should take the time to preserve some of the old ways.  Remind our children that sitting next to grandpa and hearing a story is far greater than reading a status update on Face Book.  A hand written note saying I love you and I am proud of you is far better than a posting on my wall.  And looking through a photo album of my father’s youth and my childhood days is fun, and the album itself can be passed down endlessly into the future without updating a browser.
   Just some of my recent thoughts.


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