Monday, July 16, 2007

Old fashioned vs modern communication technology

I was watching a movie last night about an Amish young woman that was charged with murdering her newborn son. Her lawyer was told by the judge that the girl went to jail till trial or else the lawyer had to go chaperone her 24/7 till then. The lawyer gets there and when her laptop battery went dead she went looking for the "emergency" power supply and she couldn't believe that when they told her there was no electricity that there actually was none. She could not charge her cell phone battery and the nearest pay phone as 20 miles away.

The lawyer asks the young woman at one point if she had friends and extended family away from the farm and she replied yes. SO then she asked the girl well without a phone or computers how do you talk to each other. The girl looked at her like she had horns and simply said "We go to their house and talk". It sounded like a stupid thing to say.. too simple to be true but this afternoon as I was cleaning out my inbox of emails and returning voice mail messages that sentence came back to me. I had to really think other then from my mom, when was the last time I had gotten an actual snail mail in my mailbox?

I used to be so thrilled when I would get my mail and there would be these thick envelopes there waiting for me. It was a whole production... if it was winter I would make a whole pot of chamomile tea, summer meant lemonade and I would wait till the house was quiet and I would read the letters. First I would scan it quickly for the juicy gossip (oh wait not gossip but rather important information!) then I would start from the beginning and read to the end. The letter would stay opened on my desk till it was answered and I would read it many times till then.

My mom still writes to me as she doesn't own a computer but other then hers, I don't get mail anymore. If my mailbox is stuffed it's because it's Monday and all the stupid flyers are there. I can't remember when the last time it was that I wrote a long newsy letter either. I used to once a year with Christmas cards but even that stopped awhile back when everyone got email addresses.

Now my form of conversation is a paragraph or two by email. When our son in law was in the hospital last week I was stuck there trying to call people from my cell and didn't have anyone's numbers. Anyone really important are on my speed dials on my home phone but only my kids are on my cell directory. I had this friend in Regina when we lived there and at 9am sharp every day that I was off we would get on the phone. I don't know if it is still like that but back then at least one phone in the house had to be hard wired to the house as on the wall etc. You couldn't just have phones that plugged in the jacks. Anyway we both had 75 foot cords on our phones and we would talk for 1-2 hours every day as we did our housecleaning and laundry. I have no idea what we all talked about but we did. I had another friend that our husbands hooked up intercoms between the 2 homes because we talked to each other for hours and tied up the lines (this of course was pre-call waiting or voice mail).

Lately I have been working on Facebook looking up people I knew in Regina when we were there.... kids and grandkids plus work just seemed to have made contact all but disappear but as I find people I am surprised how many still don't even have computers or if they do they don't have internet!! GASP!!! Survive without internet?? Bit my tongue!

But today I thought of the old days of sitting curled up on the couch with my letters or talking on the phone and realized that somehow with all our modern communication technology of cells, pagers, Yahoo, emails, voice mails, call forwarding, call waiting, and the constant beeping and ringing wherever you go, we have somehow lost the art of just talking and listening.