Communicating

I’m going to start with a story that will appear to have no connection with any of the ongoing topics of this blog…   You’ll just have to take my word for it, that there is a link.

There’s a story I have heard about my father-in-law many times over the years. I may or may not have actually heard him say this, but the story is clear to me, nonetheless. It is so characteristic of his wry humor. When his children would ask, while sitting at the dinner table, and presumably more than once, for some food item to be passed to them (such good manners) he would say: “Eat something near you.” I just love that line. I hope you find it humorous also.

Here’s the point. As a child, friends are generally drawn from the pool of ‘people near you’. My neighborhood, school (and girl scout troop) were the sources of my childhood friends, which was and is still fairly typical. And how would I communicate with these friends? By seeing them, in school or on the street or by one of us showing up at the other’s back door. Communication and connection were in person.

In junior high and high school, calling on the telephone became more common; calling girlfriends to talk about what had happened in school that day. This chat was a supplement to talking (and passing notes) in class, the hallway or at lunch. There were limitations to telephone time, however, since most families had just one landline, to be shared by the entire household. During my ‘college years’, which included a few years in the middle of my schooling and a few years after graduation, my friends were still primarily the people that I saw every day. We talked in person. There were a couple of friends who were not local that I might talk with on the phone and I did write and receive occasional letters.

Now we have to fast-forward a couple of decades, because not much changed for quite some time. I saw friends at my home or theirs, we might talk on the phone to make plans for a visit or to meet for a movie or a meal, but primarily it was face-to-face communication. And then, in the 1990’s, the cell phone took hold in our lives. Looking back, it seems both gradual and sudden, the shift to a busy cell phone social life. Granted, there were more friends who did not live close by, so the ease of communicating by cell was a simple solution.

And then there was email and the communication and ‘friendship’ universe exploded. The USPS took a hit, because letter writing was/is time consuming and laborious. Let me go on record here as being a stalwart fan of writing letters, or at least notes or even postcards. However, the unbelievable speed involved in communicating via email, including the fun of sending photos and copying and attaching things, was ultimately, too seductive to resist. The use of a cell phone or landline became something I rarely thought to do. The shift to texting followed quickly… so easy and speedy and fun. Still remember the day I sent my first text… I felt so ‘with it’, although in fact I was way behind the times, a late adopter of the method.

And that brings us to Facebook and its brethren communication networks – from Linked In for a professional veneer to Snapchat for instant and fleeting visuals. There are many more apps, but I will not expose my ignorance by trying to talk about them. And I’ll leave any commentary on blogging as communication for another time.

Perhaps tomorrow I’ll write more about email and Facebook as communication methods.   I find that I have a lot of thoughts and feelings about how they function – or don’t – in my life today.

I’m curious: how are they working out for you?

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