Monday, March 7, 2011

Cell Phones and Internet

What in the world did we ever do before we had cell phones and internet?  I just read an article in yesterday's paper from a community 300 miles from where I live, about my nephew's basketball game on Saturday (they won in overtime after a 38 second comeback at the end of the regular time).  Then I picked up my cell phone and texted him, he answered back, and I sent him another message.  All of this took place in about 5 minutes.  (I am wondering how he answered back when he's in school, but I'll just not think about that).  Wow!  

Remember the 'olden' days when we had to have a phone at home or on the corner (pay phones)?  There were local calls and long distance calls.  You could call person-to-person or collect (letting someone else pay for the call).  Your parents timed your calls because everyone in your household had to use the same phone.  Go back even a little further than that (in my lifetime--yes, I'm old) when we had party lines, so it wasn't just our household that used the line but others as well.  (OK, I barely remember that, I'm not that old!).  

Isn't it interesting that we've become so attached to the instant gratification of our communication systems?  I, obviously, can't sit here and condemn the younger generation because I am just as guilty.  I texted a friend last night to ask her if she was watching the same television program I was...a musical we had seen together at the theater a few years ago.  It wasn't necessary that we communicate about it, but it was a way to stay in touch with a friend about a memory that we shared.  Just a little 'hug' over the airwaves that said, "I'm thinking about you."  I do this frequently with family and friends.  

What I think is important to remember is that these are tools and, as with any tool, our use or abuse of them is always a concern.  Let me ask you this:  Could you put your cell phone/computer away for a whole day and not touch them?  No calls, no emails, no communication of that kind for 24 hours?  Tough, huh?  Now, I'm no expert and I'm not here to tell you what is too much or just right.  I'm just saying that ANYTHING that becomes a necessity or a priority over other things in your life is not good.  If you took any of my family's younger generation's cell phones away, I have no doubt there would be severe withdrawl symptoms.  At every family gathering now, they all have their phones in their hands texting non-stop.  They require that kind of constant communication with their friends.  Is this good or bad?  

I really don't have the answer.  I guess time will tell, but here's another question (I have a lot of them):  what does this kind of constant, instant communication mean for the next generation?  (OK, maybe a few more).  Will they expect everything to come this instantly?  What happens when they are required to sit face-to-face and communicate--maybe a job interview?  Will the next generation communicate at all in person?  Maybe everything will be done over the airwaves.  What could possibly be faster than what we have now?  Do we want it to be?  Should we want it to be?

I love those afternoons with friends and/or family where everyone is relaxed and just enjoying the conversation and time together.  Are those days about to become 'the olden days?' 


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