Then and Now -- Communication
The last than-and-now topic I am going to address is communication, the way we talk to each other and to the world in general. The Internet has totally revolutionized both the method and the speed of communication.
My mother looked forward to the mail coming every afternoon, because most days a handwritten letter arrived from someone and she posted one or more outgoing letters. A single exchange cost 6 cents in postage (3 each way) and the price of the stationery. But it usually took a couple of weeks.
We called our relatives only when there was some sort of big news to convey and my father’s mental 3-minute timer always sprang into action. Long-distance phone calls did cost money.
When my father was in the Pacific for 3 months to work on testing the atom bomb, we could speak to him only via a ham radio operator. The connection crackled and he was barely audible.
When I went away to college I wrote a letter home each week and called on Sunday from the phone booth located on my dorm hall.
Any sort of travel arrangements were made by writing letters well in advance of the trip and hoping for a timely response.
Flash forward to today. Our daughter’s favorite way of communicating is by texting. Short, sweet sound bites which are usually real-time. She seldom bothers with email. We often talk to our son with Skype, paying nothing for the call.
I have gradually come to use my cell phone for things like calling home to get a grocery list or to talk about what to cook for dinner. I try to avoid using my phone in the car, but sometimes the temptation is too great.
Virtually all forms of travel planning involve the use of the Internet. We find our vacations; read reviews; locate lodging, cruises, travel guides, rental cars, etc. online in the comfort of our homes or offices.
Letter writing has gone by the wayside. Everything is much more immediate. How were we ever so patient?
All of this speed with so many possibilities comes with an associated cost. We now pay for cell phones and phone plans and data plans for smart phones. But most of that is done automatically so we fail to really miss the money as our phone buzzes to alert us to a new text just in.
We are not alone in this obsession with phones and immediacy. Even in the poorest of countries, people now have cell phones. Globalization has indeed leveled the playing field allowing us easily to talk to each other or to people halfway around the world.
I’m not finding the book as intriguing as my own personal thought on this subject. Maybe I will be impressed with the promised remarks on how we can restore out country to its former place of glory.