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Friday, 17 January 2014

Lost in Communication

While standing in the bank, on the phone to the bank or more accurately ‘currently held in a queue’ to said bank, I got to thinking… Has the communication era brought us only benefits?
Of course there are great advantages to being in constant contact with the whole wide world. No doubt countless lives have been saved thanks to immediate and reliable connections. Remote areas are now more accessible than ever. Letters and messages can be delivered in an instant. Celebrities can be limited to 140 characters. However, there are some drawbacks to being instantly accessible to everyone, everywhere.
Your call is important to us; we will answer your call as soon as possible
The telephone was an amazing invention and certainly made the world smaller, bringing people together. Growing up, that phone was located at the end of the street, was a shared facility and was often targeted by young crooks looking for funds to call home, I guess. Doubling as a graffiti art exhibition, it offered people the chance to pass a message quicker than any postie. Home phones came next and older family members often had to be talked down from shouting while many replaced the handset almost in disbelief at what just happened. Mums started ringing the neighbours post soap to discuss important world issues rather than resolve them in the traditional way, at the garden gate. Switched on kids would snatch the chance to misbehave but mums quickly perfected the ‘hand over the receiver’ dressing down and would often finish the conversation casually clutching a very recently used disciplinary slipper. Cordless phones brought new freedom, allowing a line of communication stretching almost as far, well, the garden gate but could your parents ever find it when needed in an emergency?
Your call is being held in queue, all our advisers are busy helping other customers
Next up were in-car phones the size of modern cars yet only the rich and the tasteless could afford them so they had little impact in Bolton, where the car itself was still the status symbol. Even mobile phones took a while to filter down from Delboy and the yuppies in the business world but once they did they took the world by storm, even more so once they were light enough to be truly mobile. At first, calls remained infrequent as users implored reluctant friends to get connected but people were wary of these grown-up walkie-talkies. The cooler dudes were quick to add this on-trend technological accessory; some went as far as clipping them on their belt to successfully counter claims of following fashion.  Calling them from a landline was almost outlawed in less well-off regions as people feared astronomical bills denting the doormat. Indeed the holders of the purse strings would often follow callers around the house displaying an impressive knowledge of the per-minute call charges alongside questionable phone etiquette. Home phones seem to be on the way out nowadays so thankfully many of those helpful folk who call you when you’re cooking the tea to provide information for absolutely nothing in return are now free to pursue other fulfilling charitable ventures.
We estimate your call will be answered within two minutes, please continue to hold
Texting came next; this short message service was a cheap and efficient way of spreading word. People of all ages can use this service, albeit with varying degrees of success and it’s possible to have a full conversation. It also offers the option of the parent stock SMS response, the basic yet effective yes or no, to pretty much any enquiry. While still popular, texting takes away the human aspect as the tone is often unclear so two people can read the same message in different ways. Couples often use it to keep in touch throughout the day, sometimes placing meal orders from whoever gets home first but also for sharing jokes and simple messages of love. Wrong or badly-interpreted tone in a text has caused many a row but not as many as the text missing a kiss. This loveless note has been known to trigger an argument lasting days, where the protagonists will ironically often refuse to speak to each other. Strangely enough a simple kiss sent by text will often rectify the situation before the divorce court is booked.
Text addiction has long been in our society but people are continuously finding new ways to ignore each other in person while catching up with other ‘friends’ by other means. Who would’ve thought the invention of the telephone would eventually lead to the slow death of real conversation?
Your call is important to us; we will answer your call as soon as possible
Yeah right, of course.


Anonymous said...

Love this but what about the internet and Facebook etc?
Graham A, Flint

Scott John said...

Watch this space Graham, add your email address for updates.
Many thanks