Sunday, April 25, 2010

Smartphones/FB/Twitter But Why Is It So Hard to Communicate?

When I was in middle school I had two pen-pals: one in Mexico and one in South Africa. Although I didn't keep up with them regularly, I took pleasure in writing the letters and anxiously waiting for a reply to come back. Now, I don't even know if traditional pen-pals exist any more, but with Facebook and MySpace it's so easy just to find anyone, anywhere and just start writing to them, or following them, if you have Twitter. There was definitely something more personal about seeing someone's handwriting and knowing that they had to sit down, find a pen and paper and really focus on what they were writing to you, especially if it was in another language.

The first time I ever saw the Internet was when I was in 9th grade and working next to my friend at a computer station in study hall. I happened to glance over at her screen and saw something so strange involving boxes and images on her screen. "What is that?!" I asked. "The Internet!" she answered, then she proceeded to explain that it was being tested out with a few students before giving the entire school access. Well first, I was jealous that she was chosen and not me, but my curiosity was definitely piqued. Soon enough we all had Internet access and our own e-mail accounts on Telnet. Remember Telnet???

I ended up getting a warning because I signed up for too many Listservs and was getting massive amounts of e-mail that was threatening our server. Once I got over the Listservs I started going onto the Internet with my friend to start researching cars. I was getting to the age that I wanted to start driving so I thought the Internet would be a practical tool to help me pick out a car. Now I didn't get my Acura SUV, but I had a good time comparison shopping!

Now that I'm older I find the Internet and my Blackberry is the #1 way that I stay in touch with my friends and family. I've always been quick to adopt new technology, starting with a pager in high school ($5/month!), and I was really responsive to my parents especially when they would beep me 911! Then I'd scramble to find a phone. I was really reluctant to get a Blackberry at first since it appeared that people were attached at the hip to their Blackberries. I definitely didn't want to turn into one of  those people!

I find now that I text more than I actually talk, and at times I miss the camaraderie of phone conversations, but often it's just quick pings: "How r u?"  "TGIF =)" "5 min. late" etc. Of course Facebook and Twitter  changed the dynamic of catching up allowing to quickly scan your friends' statuses to see what they're up to. No need to call when you can scan, right? With all this technology at our disposal, why is it so hard to communicate? Communicate with quality, not quantity.

I'm not advocating abandoning technology, but there are times when it would be nice to send a letter every once in a while or even a note card. It's often a nice surprise when I get something handwritten from my friends even if it is a thank you note. And don't get me started on people that fail to send thank you notes! Oooo weee!

Take a chance and send an actual note to someone you haven't spoken to in a while - really spoken to, not just "pings." You just might brighten someone's day.