I feel rather like the lemming of legend, diving towards a cliff of catastrophe… between the computer, the laptop, the house and cell phones all my means of communication have, if I may use the term, been nobbled by circumstance… and I don’t like it… not one little bit.
Granted, things will get better and, like labour pains, it will all be worth it once all the problems are resolved…but in the meantime….
It does, of course, have its up side…no more annoying sales calls on the cell phone… the landline bill will be nonexistent… time-out when I’m away might be just that without the laptop and, as I am back on the dinosaur while the Bulldozer goes back for a refit, I am obliged to do what a certain person who shall remain nameless keeps telling me and slow down…
But it is incredibly frustrating….
We rely so much on these modern forms of communication. For all it is undoubtedly better in every respect to be able to sit down with a cuppa or something suitably grape related in a glass and actually talk with people face to face, eye to eye and heart to heart, we live in a strange society these days. With the advent of international communication over the internet, instant communication by phone and message, we have fewer friends on our doorsteps and a far wider circle… a worldwide circle… with whom we communicate daily. People we would never have met and yet who become dear to our hearts.
We form friendships… very real ones… with people we may never or only rarely meet. A whole other set of observational senses seem to have opened up for us as we learn to ‘read between the lines’ quite literally as we tap away on social networking sites or by email. We have learned to judge tone and choice of word, hearing much in how things are written…perhaps as much as we hear in a voice. When we have got to know someone they can try and hide pain in joking messages, or behind a more formal approach… and we see them through their words just as we would if they were sitting in front of us. We know them… and know when their tone changes. Punctuation and smileys replace the audible tone and communicate joy and laughter.
Of course we still apply the same filters that we would if we were face to face… and there are those who choose not to see or cannot see beyond their own sphere of being. And there are those who pick up on half a word, a chance phrase and understand immediately, being there with a cyber-hug or virtual shoulder.
In many ways the written forms of communication show us for who we are clearer than any other. You can tell those who labour to present an appearance as easily as those who write as they would if they were there to talk with you and we respond in the same way to those words as we would to the person. It has nothing to do with syntax or grammar, and everything to do with being ‘real’… particularly as the written word facelessly allows us to open our hearts much of the time in ways we would not be able to find the words, or perhaps the courage, to express in person
To those whose location or circumstances isolate them this global communication can be an incredible boon. To those who are going through a personal hell it can be a lifeline . We don’t realise how much we gain from it, perhaps, until things get rough and we find a support network of digital angels. Nor do we realise how much we depend on it until it is threatened in some way.
There is a wonderful initiative here in the UK, Computers for Carers, who collect unwanted laptops and provide them to carers to allow them to save time by doing many things online and, most importantly, to allow them access to friends and support, as being a carer can be one of the most isolating situations. The benefits of electronic communication for carers have been too well documented to be repeated here, but I think it applies to most of us in a society where we are, increasingly, isolated from the sense of community and the circles of close friends.
It is ironic, perhaps, that the digital age is both cause and remedy for the problem… but we are not going to give up our technology en masse in order to go back to a more leisurely and communal way of life. I have to wonder how much further our senses will evolve in face of this new environment in which our minds and hearts wander and explore our world….
Meantime, I have a computer to return to base and the lawn needs mowing before dark… and I just had a call about keeping someone company.
You can do an awful lot with digital communication, but you’ll never replace human warmth with a computer.