Tuesday, August 28, 2012
Communication changes in my lifetime
Most of us feel the need to be connected. Without our connections to others we feel isolated, alone, and sometimes depressed. I believe there is a healthy need that expresses itself in normal activites and perhaps a pathological state where the slightest separation creates panic or grave discomfort.
Electricity has permitted us to be connected in ways unpredictable just over a century ago. The early phone system permitted women, isolated in their homes, to have community conversations on the “party line”. About the same time radio in all its manisfestatons began to bring the outer world into the family living room and instaantly wherever there was a transmitter there was sharing of local news.
Newer phone systems abolished the “party line”, but women were working outside the home during the World war II years and there was less isolation. During the early 50's, television by its sitcoms and other programs gave us the illusion of being connected while slowly leaching out conversational skills. For some “What will we talk about...?” was a palpable fear. For those who made the effort in the early years, computers and what soon became possible with them, soon replaced the jaundiced and repetitively boring world of television. Communication with friends and family by email replaced the laborious handwritten letter. Often, the email was a little more carefully phrased then something blurted out suddenly by phone. Many of us chose to communicate this way as it became more widespread.. Libraries were utilized less as access to great knowledge resources became cheaply and instantly available.
The smartphone has added a new layer to communication as it a phone married to a computer.
Texting is wildly popular as it still gives the thoughtful a way to communicate carefully before pushing the “send” button. Siri (the phone program that allows you to replace finger strokes with voice recognition) makes that process still faster..but one is advised to think carefully before speaking.
As a retiree, I have more discretionary time. My computer and iPhone allow me almost instantaneous connection with those who are important to me. FaceBook lets me be in tune with family and friends.Twitter gives me quick information on what is happening “out there”. Applications on the iPhone fill in the gaps....I search and add those I need, and since most of them are free, I delete those that no longer fill a useful function. I could live comfortably without TV. Being without my iPhone would really feel frustrating.