Instant Connections and Communications – Taking the Good with the Bad

May you live in interesting times

As I sat in my 6th grade classroom, making every appearance of listening to the Social Studies lesson of the day, my peripheral vision caught a folded piece of notebook paper making a dangerous journey forward from the rear right corner of the room. As the teacher looked down at her book, or turned to use the blackboard, a student might tap the person ahead and hand the paper up, or slide it carefully onto the desk at the left. At last the paper reached its intended recipient, whose name was block printed on one of the exposed sides. Her task was to open it, near the front of the classroom, without attracting the notice of the teacher. The message had to reach her during class, or she would pass into the halls and on to her next class without the urgent information in the note.

By ninth grade, I regularly carried messages (usually just verbal) from a friend in my gym class, to her boyfriend in my English class. When we went on high school or scouting field trips, we were given regular hourly intervals at which each meandering group would “meet back” with the rest at a common point to allow the group leaders to count heads. If we went out from home and were late returning, our parents worried and called around to our friends’ homes to find out where we were last spotted. (We were always scolded for not calling in on these occasions, as well.)

Now, all of these things are handled using cell phones which can text, tweet, or email, in addition to just outright calling another person, to make sure no important communication is missed. We indeed live in interesting times.

Now, in fact, electronic communication is so pervasive that we are seeking ways to limit it. Folks barely look up from their handheld devices as they cross a street, email boxes are full of “spam”/electronic junk mail, and we are rudely interrupted by phones ringing (and subsequent personal conversations) in restaurants, elevators, and other public places. Phones light up at the movies, distracting other theater goers, as an impatient recipient reads a text message that just can’t wait. Television commercials warn against the serious dangers of texting while driving.

Today, I read that Apple has received a patent to restrict iPhone recordings near government buildings and political events. There is an outcry over this limitation of a freedom that, fifty years ago, was pure science fiction. So many benefits, so many issues.

When I first had email, I rushed home to check my “mailbox” every night. Ten years later, I was so battered by the constant barrage of emails at work, and demands for immediate responses, that some nights I didn’t even turn my personal computer on. Now I have a phone with texting and IM-ing, a laptop with email (three addresses for different purposes, neatly sorted by Outlook), Skype, Facebook and LinkedIn on both these devices and my Kindle Fire, and the ability to create and email a blog post from anywhere any time.

These are all wonderful conveniences, but sometimes I just need to unplug. For the last five or six days I’ve been travelling. I popped into my email and Facebook twice to “keep up,” and if a family member had needed to reach me, I had a cell phone. I didn’t feel the immediate need to use another device or program. Of course, during that time I neglected my blog, but it was sort of restful.

I don’t Tweet, Facebook, or text my every move (I don’t care for it when other people do this, so I won’t burden them either.) I don’t post my opinions on Facebook (after all this is meant as social media –and weren’t we taught not to discuss religion or politics socially?) I have my blog for my random thoughts and opinions (which I post to a separate Facebook page for those who care.) I truly appreciate my friends and followers, and will try to get caught up this week – but I unapologetically enjoyed my e-vacation.

So, in the event that I’m somewhere away from home, perhaps on a prolonged trip, and I have an urgent need to communicate something on my blog, it will be wonderful that I have that ability from all of my electronic devices through email. I’m giving that a try for the first time with this post, including using some “shortcodes” – for example to tag it. However, just because I can do something with one of these marvelous devices doesn’t mean that I necessarily should, or will.

Time will tell how useful some of these new tech advances will be for me, but who knows? These are, after all, very interesting times.

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9/21/12 – A quick addendum – I’m thrilled to advise that this post was selected by WordPress.com to be Freshly Pressed!   Thanks, WordPress!!

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This post was written in response to the the WordPress Weekly Writing Challenge: Mail It In. To read more about the challenge and other bloggers’ responses, click here:  http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2012/09/17/weekly-writing-challenge-mail-it-in/ 

 

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102 Responses to Instant Connections and Communications – Taking the Good with the Bad

  1. Imelda says:

    Congratulations for the FP honor. 🙂 Your post is lovely and thoughtful.

    Like

  2. saffy3000 says:

    I miss paper notes and talking face to face. School days were the best because of this! Great post!

    Like

  3. Congratulations on being Freshly Pressed! 🙂

    Like

  4. Madhu says:

    Well said TRS! I could relate to every word. Am going to be switching off in a few days myself.
    Congratulations on the FP! So happy for you 🙂

    Like

  5. I went to back to school night for my kids in a very well-funded (wealthy) school. The science teacher was so excited about how they kids were going to go paperless and would learn to input and post data to him without ever writing anything down. I noticed he didn’t leave space in the time allotted to him to discuss what types of data the kids would be gathering, learning about . . . it was all about the manner in which the data would be shared. It made me sad.

    Like

    • Some older kids now actually have very child-like penmanship because they don’t “write” – they type. There are other cognitive benefits to manually writing things down… The clearly typed data may be easier for the teacher, but is it best for the kids?
      Thanks for the visit and an interesting, thought-provoking comment!

      Like

  6. patricemj says:

    We can only digest so much information. Surplus tends to weaken our ability to deeply or meaningfully relate to what we do have. My husband just finished an interesting book about how social media is changing the way we think, it’s pretty interesting, it’s called “The Shallows”. Bottomline, it seems we are becoming skimmers, and are quick to stream all information coming in into pre-ordained categories (brands), it’s how we manage having too much. But all the skimming leaves us feeling unsatisfied and unable to settle into life in a deeper way. I think we should all get in the habit of taking e-Vacations. We should all be curious about how we will see the world, hear the world, smell and taste it, when we are relieved intrustions.

    Like

    • Wow – thanks for the info on the book. I suspect this attention deficit may start with 2-year olds watching Sesame Street – nothing last more than a minute, and you’re on to the next subject. All flash and 30-second sound bites, like our commercials and politicians. We know lots of little mosaic snippets, but our brains aren’t learning to listen long enough to get the pieces into cement to form a complete picture. Electronics make that so much easier!
      Instead of taking time to learn from experience, too many of us learn from Bing and Google. Unplugging from time to time is so important!
      Thanks so much for stopping by!

      Like

  7. Wanda says:

    I read, probably two years ago, about someone declaring e-mail bankruptcy. He/she had so many e-mails, they simply decided to delete all of them and start over. The premise was if the matter was important, the sender would e-mail again. If not, nothing lost. I’ve been tempted, a time or two, to do the same thing. As you say, we enjoy (?) an amazing array of e-devices, but we are also, to a certain extent, slaves to those conveniences. It’s a balancing act for sure!

    Like

  8. nara says:

    I come back here to wordpress after long time to find some deep thought as information like social media provide make me already full of information and maybe my mind has lost conciousness because it is like nothing inside my mind now. Just like You, I think I need some e-vacation to stop consuming news and start creating.

    It is a good think that I come here, thanks for your great post

    Like

  9. jguider says:

    Congratulations for the Freshly Pressed honor. Hopefully others will accept the invitation to drop-by and enjoy what many already do – terrific writing.

    Like

  10. GP says:

    Reblogged this on misentopop.

    Like

  11. How exciting to see one of the blogs I admire and am motivated by on Freshly Pressed! Great topic and so appropriately put together.

    Like

  12. |Great post, and congratulations on freshly pressed!

    Like

  13. Grumpa Joe says:

    We are headed toward information Armageddon. Too much is what it is. Even tho I said that, I confess I am an information addict. I am one of those who walks down the street gaping at my phone for more; to the detriment of my safety. There was a time when I thought the home phone rang too much. Now, the home phone never rings, but the pocket phone plays music, vibrates, chimes, etc in all places. I have learned to turn it off just as I learned to ignore call waiting signals.
    It is all good stuff, but fighting off addictions is too stressful.

    Like

  14. Great post, and great blog! I really enjoyed it. Congrats on being Freshly Pressed too!

    Like

  15. Angelia Sims says:

    I have to unplug sometimes too. Too much instant info makes me bonkers. I have to admit though…..it is mighty convenient. 🙂 How would we know anything now without the almighty Google? Ha.

    Congrats on your FP!

    Like

  16. Congrats on the FP! I was skimming along the offerings, spotted yours and thought, Hey! I already read that! Proud to say, “I read you when…” :>

    Like

  17. Kavi says:

    Hearty Congrats on being FP’d 🙂

    Like

  18. The Guat says:

    Ha! I miss the passing-notes days. Good post. Congrats on being Freshly Pressed. 🙂

    Like

  19. anneaf says:

    true. me sometimes tired with all the ease technology brings us. lol

    Like

  20. TTTFanSarah says:

    It really is amazing how dependent we have become on technology. Personally, I can hardly stand to not have my cell phone in my pocket. Like you said, it’s more out of habit than anything. Between classes, I find myself hopping on Facebook just for something to do. For awhile, I didn’t think I could survive without this technology. Then I found myself in Nicaragua for a month for one of my classes. Needless to say, I had no phone or Internet access for most of the time I was there. You know what? I did just fine. In fact, I didn’t even miss it all that much! Of course, my reliance on it started back up again once I got home, but I’m not quite as glued to it as I used to be. Thanks for the reminder that being in communication 24/7/365 isn’t necessarily the best!

    Like

    • Thanks, Sarah – Sounds like you took a wonderful break – Nicaragua! It’s wonderful to have all this connecting technology, as long as we keep it in perspective… I appreciate the visit & your comment!! 😉

      Like

  21. Congrats on Freshly Pressed!

    Like

  22. caliroe says:

    Congratulations, congratulations! This subject has been rambling around in my head for a week now. I put a status update on my FB timeline the other day that I am going on sabbatical (deactivation) for one year starting Monday. A birthday gift to myself. I’m weary of the politics/religion/whining/forwards etc..
    I even have ‘secret codes’ for family and friends to text to my cell phone so I know what type of call it is and when to return it.
    Again congratulations!

    Like

  23. Enjoy the moment, and let it sink in and simmer like stew. You can always blog to idiots like me sitting in my PJs behind a laptop at a later date when the experience is ready to be shared. Hint: the retired ones are all wearing hats (been down that skin cancer road all too often). Thanks for sharing your thoughts on sharing, and congratulations on being “Freshly Pressed.”

    Like

  24. When my cell phone died a couple of days ago (free upgrade next month so I opted out of buying a new one) I thought I was going to get to (yay for me, no phone) do without a phone for awhile. No big deal really. Then I find out I can make all the phone calls I want through my gmail account for free and I can get a phone number for free as well so people can call me (who knew?!). So much for living with the excuse “oops sorry, my phone is busted so I couldn’t call”. Technology refuses to give us a day off and people in general label us lazy when we do take that much needed day off. Go figure.

    Congrats on the freshly pressed.

    Like

  25. Samantha says:

    Arguably, I was one of the kids who was halfway to adulthood before cell phones, etc. began to really get popular. It’s funny though, because when people started getting into big trouble for texting in class, etc. (and considering I had about 100 text mesages to use a month at that point) one of my best friends and I would always pass handwritten notes in class anyway. I still have all of them, and it’s a huge pile! I took a photo of them and put it on Facebook for her to see one time, and she was amazed as well. Goes to show technology doesn’t always kick out more familiar ways of doing things 🙂

    Like

  26. eof737 says:

    I still have tons of email and several accounts so I’m always mulling over what to do… 😆 By the way, we got Freshly Pressed! This post, mine on email too, and several others. Congrats! 🙂

    Like

  27. Being June says:

    My husband and I were just talking about this this morning, how much things have changed since we were kids (in the 70s). We’re handling the changes as well as can be expected, but we worry about our own kids who won’t have the benefit of living without cell phones, internet, iPads, etc. Our kids are still young (four and seven), so we’re already trying to teach them that there’s more to life than being connected, than video games. But MAN it’s tough when “all the other kids have DSs and cell phones and….” But we will persevere! Thanks for a great post and congrats on being Freshly Pressed. P.S. YES! We WERE taught not to discuss religion and politics! What the heck happened??

    Like

    • Hi, June – There are also benefits to some of these technologies – great learning games, the ability to check in with your kids any time (I wish I’d had that when mine were teens), as long as they also play outside and know what to do with themselves when the power is out!
      Dunno what happened with the religion & politics lesson. Maybe people feel it’s OK as long at they aren’t physically speaking? It drives me crazy – I’d love some little corner where we could ramp down the rhetoric! Anyway, Thanks so much for taking time to stop in and comment!! 😉

      Like

  28. Dounia says:

    Great post and so true! There are nearly 10 years between my younger brother and myself (he is just starting university), and that gap is huge when it comes to technology that was available when we were in school. When I was in school we still passed notes around, talked on landlines and interacted without the use of technology. In my brother’s case its texts, organizing any plans via facebook etc… I find it a shame, but then again I’m quite old-fashioned for my age – especially when it comes to technology and social media! 🙂

    I really enjoyed reading this post and could relate to your thoughts so much – thanks for sharing and congrats on being freshly pressed! Have a wonderful weekend!

    Like

  29. muddledmom says:

    I miss the days of folded notes. Remember how your heart would race for fear of being caught? Remember all the fancy folds? I wonder if kids still do that? If not, they’re missing out. I can embrace technology and all this new stuff, but hold on to the old too. There’s still good in it. Nice post. Congrats on being Freshly Pressed!

    Like

  30. Matt_S_Law says:

    Everyone needs to unplug from the Matrix from time to time.
    future shock (NOUN): A condition of distress and disorientation brought on by the inability to cope with rapid societal and technological change.

    Like

    • Yep. You no sooner adapt to a new version of software than it gets revised again! I love new tools and am always happy to try new technology, but sometimes I’m content with what I have, or like going low tech. Nothing hits the reset button like a day in a kayak or canoe! Thanks for visiting! 🙂

      Like

  31. SimplySage says:

    Hurray for you, my friend! You got yourself Freshly Pressed! Congratulations.
    I think you echo many of us who fell into instant love with this technology as we quickly left behind the slowness of the old. It was antiquity we didn’t mind letting go.
    But every new invention does require responsibility and so we must face it. I’m currently on a “Facebook Fast”. (Not that I was ever a Facebook junkie.)
    I’m also going to share a blog post I think goes along with this. It’s written by a Generation Y, also known as Generation iY. The “i” stands for “Internet”. They are the generation that has not grown up WITHOUT these things. This provoked my Facebook Fast. Very interesting. I hope you and your readers will enjoy.
    Peace,
    Alexandria
    http://thepostic.wordpress.com/ours-the-generation/

    Like

    • Thanks, Alexandria – for your congrats and for sharing – that is a good post! My nieces, nephews, and grandkids are plugged in – but not always connected… I love the way he made that distinction. Have a great weekend!! 😉

      Like

  32. madhaus7 says:

    Very intriguing blog post! I particularly liked the line, “after all this is meant as social media -and weren’t we taught not to discuss religion or politics socially?” in regards to posting opinions on Facebook. That is really well said and a tip I think I’ll use and wish others would as well.

    I have found myself in times when technology is a burden, however usually I’m a person with a smart phone who is constantly checking email, Facebook, Twitter, etc. I see how mind numbing it is and wonder where I should draw lines and restrict myself. It’s a brave new world that I suppose we’ll all have to figure out on our own terms. Great post and thank you for sharing!

    Like

    • I agree – I like being “in the loop” but try to get away from my machines when I can… one place we draw the line is at the water’s edge. When we paddle, we take on one (non-smart) phone in a life jacket pocket for emergencies – but otherwise we’re unplugged for the day. It’s very liberating! Thanks for taking time to make your comment – I appreciate it!

      Like

      • madhaus7 says:

        Good tip! I recently went on a camping trip and although my phone was on me, I just didn’t check it the two days I was out. It felt great to be away from all that mess and be surrounded by the here and now of nature. Thanks for the reply!

        Like

  33. Congratulations! You’re Freshly Pressed today! It’s such a great feeling to see someone I’ve been following for months got the Freshly Pressed award. Well done! Keep them coming!

    Like

  34. segmation says:

    Nice blog! It will be interesting to see what the new iPhone will bring to us! http://www.segmation.wordpress.com

    Like

    • All kinds of other-worldly delights, no doubt! I went in to get a new battery for my Android phone today, and the tech tried to sell me an iPhone4 (cheap) while I was there! Right now, between my tablet and phone I can do everything I have time for… but I’m sure I’ll be enticed at some point! Thanks for stopping by! 😉

      Like

  35. Thanks for checking out my Texture Travel Theme, and for your kind words thereon!

    This invasion of freedom is sickening, but not at all surprising. High technology and government/military industrial complex (if you can tell the difference between the latter two!) go hand-in-hand, and it seems like Apple and basically all mega-multinational corporations have leaped at every opportunity to infringe on their CUSTOMERS’ rights; but this shouldn’t surprise us either. All this high technology is supposed to make our lives easier and less stressful, and of course in some ways they do, but then why are suicide and drug abuse and domestic violence and rape so wretchedly prevalent in industrialized nations?

    High technology is simply enabling those in power to destroy the planet and drive species extinct at an ever-increasing rate. And technology will NOT solve the problems caused primarily **BY TECHNOLOGY**! Just some thoughts, thanks for inspiring me =)

    –Love and Liberation (liberation from the industrial megamachine, for one)–

    Jan @ TheRewildWest

    Like

  36. Wow, this brought back a lot of memories… thanks! Glad you got some time away… and came back just in time for this challenge. :>

    Like

  37. adinparadise says:

    I really miss those letters in the post. Even the accounts come via the internet. I think most people these days are unable to function without their computers, iPads, iPhones, etc. How nice that you had some restful, unplugged time. 🙂

    Like

  38. sharechair says:

    Great post! And so true. I think I might be the only person on the planet who never joined Facebook. Didn’t do it, don’t really understand it, and considering how blogging has sucked me in, I think I probably made a good decision, there!

    Like

    • Thanks! My kids talked me into Facebook – even my mom was on it. I use it mostly for family – my kids, aunts, cousins, nieces & nephews, and my granddaughter all share photos of what they’re doing. I haven’t friended tons of people and I’m not into the games, but I enjoy the pages from the town where I grew up, and for a paddling group we’re part of. I do know some people who use it wayyyyy to much, though! 😉

      Like

  39. LubbyGirl says:

    always good to read your posts. I found this one a bit of a challenge (figuring out how to do it), but a lot of fun (figuring out who to write the email to). And I loved having my pen-pals as a teenager. I think they enriched my life very much. Now if I could ever meet them….

    Like

  40. Enjoyed your post. All so true! I’ve wondered about setting up a seperate Facebook page for my blog. Might be a good idea?! Thanks for the post:)

    Like

  41. coastalcrone says:

    Yes, there is some good and some bad in the tech world today. Yet I still like the written note or postcard when traveling. OK…I have dated myself. And I kept letters/notes in a shoe box way back then and had a pen pal from England.

    Like

    • Yes, and I like my thank you notes to be handwritten whenever possible (I always put a pack of them in each of my kids’ stockings at Christmas when they were growing up.) Pen pals were such a fun idea, weren’t they? 😉

      Like

  42. fotograffer says:

    Unplugged! What a novel idea. Is it legal?

    Like

  43. dockfam says:

    Such a good post! How funny — gone are the days of writing notes — with actual ink and paper!! My friends and I still have shoeboxes of old PAPER notes we passed during class….back then, I even had a…wait for it….a pen pal…snail mail!!! I know….unbelievable right?? Sometimes I just look at my kids now and wonder how my childhood would’ve been different if I had been privileged to today’s technology…..at the same time, I wonder if they could survive without it!

    Like

    • There was something magic about the intimacy of a written note, and the fun of waiting for a reply to letter correspondence in the mailbox by the street!
      I agree that, although technology is wonderful and immediate, we’re a little too dependent on it!
      Thanks for your visit and comment. 😉

      Like

  44. Madhu says:

    Well done TRS! I feel relieved that there are others who feel the same 🙂

    Like

  45. Well Done! I enjoyed reading your post.. reminded me of grade school .. and some of the ‘hand written’ notes I still have .. from my “crush” back then who promised to meet me at the bus stop .. before we took our respective bus back home 🙂 I felt the same way about technology when the digital camera came out. I refused to get one for the longest time, simply because I loved going to the store and getting my film developed – I loved the element of being surprised .. now, with technology, we just don’t have one second to spare and sometimes it seems like people are still trying to fit 48 hours of work into a 24 hour day! Anyway, I loved reading your post, and look forward to seeing more of them 🙂 -Heather Decker

    Like

  46. fgassette says:

    All the modern technology is fine. When I am on vacation, I do just that. Enjoy my time away from everyday activities and just relax and enjoy myself. Of course, when I come back I have a lot of e-mail and blogging to catch up on but I am re-energized and ready to go. Technology has it’s place but you have to learn how to use it and not let it run you.

    BE ENCOURAGED! BE BLESSED!

    Like

  47. travtrails says:

    the never ending tech. opportunities are both a blessing and bane.

    Like

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