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The Age of Communication

February 25, 2011 Leave a comment

Since the explosion of text messaging years ago, people have lamented the lack of inter-personal contact.  People will sit in the same room and text or IM each other instead of turning around and speaking to each other.  Most of this has come from Baby Boomers and those who do not engage in regular messaging and despite being raised with computers have resisted them and refuse to learn anything about it.  I do not think that this era of texting, instant contact and social media has caused us, as a species, to move further apart.  It has actually ushered us into a new era of contact never before achieved.

Text messaging was invented in 1992 by a guy named Neil Papworth.  Poor Neil didn’t think to patent his new technology, otherwise he might be one of the richest men in the world right now.  In 1992, many people still had pagers and pay phones were on nearly every corner.  You could even see a Mercedes idling at a drive-up phone after pumping $1.05 a gallon gas and filling the car for $15.  Personally, I got a pager when I was 15 and had that until I was 17 (1995-1997).  Cell phones were catching on at that point, and even some people in high school started getting them.  I recall most people didn’t even know about texting, there was no such thing as a texting plan and surprisingly, IT WAS FREE!

 

I think I sent my first texts in maybe 1998.  I was working at a pizza shop and I’d send messages to people who’d have no idea how to get them, and they’d be annoyed at having an envelope on their screen that they couldn’t get rid of.  In fact, it was a Nokia, I can’t remember the model.  Two color screen, back lit buttons.  I didn’t have a phone with a color screen until 2001, it was a Kyocera.  I’ll stop with the history of phones I’ve had.

 

This age of instant communication can be daunting and hard to keep up with.  I resisted Facebook and Twitter, but now I use both regularly.  To many, the perpetual feed of information is overwhelming and it causes them to just turn off and walk away.  It’s certainly not for everyone.  However, just because we’re not speaking face to face doesn’t mean that it’s not the same sort of contact.  Facebook has enabled me to reconnect with and converse with people that I haven’t seen in 15 years.  We of the “Y” generation (a term I always hated) are coming up in a world that couldn’t be more disconnected with the traditions of Boomers and 40-50 somethings today.  Personally, every single one of the guys I hung out with in High School moved out of town.  Conversely, my 50 year old neighbor can probably name 20 people he went to high school with that he sees regularly around town.

Social media has been bred of necessity.  Unless we want to spend every waking minute on the phone, there is no other way to stay in contact with so many people who are spread so far apart.  At no time in the history of mankind have we been so in touch with each other.  In order to communicate more we would actually need to have some sort of psychic ability.  It’s surely easy to resent this at times, though, as being constantly reachable can be quite a burden.  I’m not sure what can surpass this, what is next, but I’m sure that I’ll complain about the good old days of texting when I don’t want to learn about it.

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Categories: Opinion
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