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Friday, May 3, 2013

My View of our World of Communication

Ah, the old rotary phone.  When phones were a good thing.
  Somebody has an overdeveloped sense of privacy.  It is funny.  In today's world of hyper-communication options, most people are difficult to contact.  All of my kids have cell phones, but I can almost never reach one by calling them.   I have friends who never check their e-mail.  Phone calls?  Puh-leese!  Don't you dare call them at home.  A ringing phone is now considered an invasion of privacy.  I mean, really?  Soldiers appropriating your house as a barracks was an invasion of privacy.  Your local library printing your list of previously checked out books in the newspaper is an invasion of privacy.  But calling your phone?  Sending an e-mail?
  Honestly, sometimes, I think the is world is going to hell in a whine-bottle.
  I am now old enough to tell stories with the first line "I remember when..." and I'll do it right now.
  I remember when a ringing phone set everyone to running toward the phone.  You tried to snatch the receiver off the cradle before the third ring.  Second, if you were close.  I can still hear my siblings saying "I'll get it!" with that subtle implication that I'd better not get it first.  Or I'd get it, you know what I mean?  And let's not forget that we had no idea who would be on the other end of the line.  That's right, kiddos, no caller-ID.
  I won't even start a discussion about party-lines.  (And no, that's not an allusion to 1-900 numbers.)
  So what happened?  Why won't we answer the phone?  Why do we think an email is an intrusion?  Why this hyper-sensitivity against communication?
  Don't blame this on telemarketers.  Don't even try.  Sure, people began to hate the bombardment of salesmen on the phones.  But that was solved with caller-ID, which has been around since the Nineties.  (It was, interestingly enough, first developed in Greece in 1969, though it wasn't until the Nineties that it was commercially available in many countries.)  Caller-ID killed the telemarketer.  They fought on, using different means of combating the caller-ID, such as unknown caller, but really, most people just learned to answer local numbers, or ones they recognized.  So yes, this did sort of dampen our interest in answering the phone. But with the advent of the Do Not Call laws, the random sales calls pretty much came to an end.
  I believe that the real communication killer nowadays is an age-old problem: selfishness.  We've been taught several damaging philosophies, which we have eagerly adopted, since they feed the baser sides of our natures.  We're told that we are special, there is no one like us.  Each one of us is so unique, our value as a person is far higher than our neighbors'.  We're also told that time is golden, and we should make the best of it.  We need to seize the day, do whatever it is that makes us feel great, important, and world-changing.  This sort of talk excites us.  It confirms what we all thought when we were four years old and our Aunts and Uncles said things like "he's the cutest, brightest child in the world".  That's heady stuff for a little kid, and when a kid thinks about that, he begins to believe it.  As an adult, when he hears how precious time is, and how it is always running out, he eventually decides he will make the best of it, and he won't let others steal away his time.
"How could you call me right now!  I'm
watching Barbara Stanwyck in
Sorry, Wrong Number!  Go away!"
  You know, time to watch TV.  Or time to fish.  Time to eat.  (That's a biggie.  Don't you dare call around supper time.  "I'm eating right now!  Go away!")  And you know, most people don't mind this, since they too, want to have time to themselves.  So there we all are, in our little worlds, not being bothered by phone calls, as we take advantage of our time to sit alone, undisturbed.
  I don't mean to call everyone selfish.  If it helps, I'm right there with you.  I've only recently begun to change my attitude, and enjoy the ringing of a phone.  I haven't started shouting "I'll get it!" yet, but I may get back to that.  I will admit that I've always enjoyed getting email, whatever it is.  If it is something I didn't ask for, I'll just delete it.  No big deal.  But I like to see mail pop up.  I generally read it, unless it looks like it might have something harmful in it.  But you know, I've been known to chat back and forth with business reps who email me.  It is hard for me not to respond to an email.
  Of course, as I was writing this, the phone rang and it was a political party wanting my money.  I just firmly told them I'd look into the issue they were calling about and then said goodbye.  It didn't hurt me.  It didn't ruin my day.  My life has not been compromised by their intrusive act.
  But I'll stop whining now.  And I won't even address the fact that all these people who hate to talk on the phone love to text each other.  Why would I?  It makes so little sense to me I think most of them need clinical help.  But that's for doctors to decide, not me.  Besides, I gotta go and delete all of my new emails today.

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