There are many times when I yearn for the days when there was no voice mail, e-mail, texting, tweeting, or anything else that omitted being truly connected. I remember the phone ringing and there was no way to decipher who it was until you answered it. No one could leave a message if you weren’t home, which allowed you not to be concerned about calling them back. They simply knew you weren’t there and so they called you again. Telemarketers didn’t exist, so you never had to worry that a person selling a trip to the Antarctic, including sled dogs, would be calling you all hours of the day and night.
If you got correspondence it was in the form of a letter, which was handwritten by someone who actually knew how to use the english language. At some point, I fear letter writing will become obsolete, in lieu of texting which has become the new shorthand. So much of our history has been relayed in letters. Will historians fill textbooks with “so and so died March 10 2020 OMG!”. Will love letters cease to exist and simply be texts filled with emogis of hearts, and faces that look happy? The boxes filled with cards and letters from loved ones cannot be replaced with e-mails, which is here today and deleted tomorrow.
Words help to elicit emotions and in turn create memories. It is often difficult to decipher some e-mails as to their intent. When I write an e-mail my history turns it into a letter. My younger counterparts will often have one word as a response. “Yes”, or “okay”, is used most often. I can see those as a reply if I ask you if you got my e-mail, but if I’m inviting you over for dinner, wouldn’t it be nice if you said, “Yes, that would be lovely.” “Thank you so much”. When I have attempted to inquire as to why replying has to be so short and sweet, I am told it’s because their busy. The downsizing of “real” communication seems to be married to being busy.
When I’m hired to do a speaking engagement, I ask for contact numbers in case I have a problem in transit. They give me every imaginable way to get them, The only problem is that most often no one answers any of the numbers or e-mails. The voice mail comes on and informs me that they’re away at a conference; the very one I am supposed to talk at. I would have better luck with a homing pigeon or someone on horseback carrying a letter.
I know it’s not going to change. It will only get faster and faster and words will be replaced by more and more symbols. Until then I will continue to embrace words, their meaning and the joy they bring me.