Monday, March 21, 2011


I remember, in grade school, the telephone was one of the most important devices in our homes. Sure, by today's standards, they didn't do much. However, with an extra long cord, you could take it to different parts of the house - even have your own privacy if you could stretch it to your room! Speed dial was a cool technological advancement, especially when trying to win a radio contest, but I generally had at least ten phone numbers memorized. We used to spend long periods of time on the phone, which became an issue if someone else was trying to call in. Then God created call-waiting.

In high school, I discovered a new form of communication (no, not short-wave radio). I guess they had been doing it for years at those public schools, but the whole note-writing concept was new to me. It was a daily thing, and you may have sent several throughout the day. There were even cool ways to fold said letters given the absence of the obsolete envelope. That was our primary form of communication throughout the day. Of course, when we got home we'd ask, "did anyone call?" I still ask that when I get home sometimes, just to be nostalgic, but nobody answers.

In the Pre-Cellular Age, also known as the mid-nineties, I had my first jobs, and I had my pager. What a marvelous, if not short-lived, piece of communication history! I could be contacted anytime and anywhere for the first time... well, since my mom knew exactly where I was at any given time, but that had probably been at least a decade. The evolution was inevitable, and finally in 2000 my boss made me go buy a cell phone. Fine.

2000 was also the year I signed up for an email account while abroad in Europe. We were just discovering a new world of communication. So, basically, for the first Bush Administration term we - for the first time in human history - had the power to talk to anyone, anytime, anywhere... and hear their voice! Of course cost was an issue internationally, but we could still send an email instantly. Brilliant! Later, webcams and live video communications made it possible to see a person in Greeneville or Afghanistan while you have your conversation.

Somewhere along the way, they invented text messaging.

I don't dislike text messaging. I just dread the day that I call one of my nieces, to no answer, and she texts back because she doesn't want to answer the phone. I called a friend last week, and I could hear the dumbfoundedness in her voice. Have we reached a technological over-saturation point, or are we letting our gadgets make us lazy? It just is very curious to me that after all these advances and decades we have settled on a personal telegraph as our preferred medium of contact. Why is that? Surely it's a resting point... before the next social-technological shift.


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