Do You Copy?

The methods of communication have changed significantly in my lifetime.  As a kid, I talked on the phone in the room where it was affixed to the wall.  Technology advanced, allowing the phone to conveniently sit on the end table. During my teen years, the longest phone cord available was a must to allow for private conversations in the bathroom or closet.  Cell phones came into being and my Dad’s came in a case the size of a shoe box. God forbid you really used it, as it cost a small fortune.

My friends and I talked on the phone, passed triangular shaped notes at school, met at the show on Friday nights, rode our bikes around town, had slumber parties, and knew we had to be home by dark.  We were active, happy, well-rounded kids who were immersed in nature, close to our families and had meaningful relationships.  Our lives were full, but not overly busy or hectic. We were content and we knew we were loved, valued and safe.

I have always been grateful for my idyllic childhood and upbringing, one that took place in rural Illinois.  The older I have become, the more places I have lived, and the significant changes in technology have made me even more grateful for being born in that time and place.  As kids, we escaped the electronic age. 

My first electronic was my parents’ hand-me-down 8 track stereo, which was bestowed upon me when they upgraded to a cassette tape stereo. With the stereo, came all of their 8 tracks – everything from Jim Croce and Judy Collins to Waylon Jennings and the Statler Brothers. My Dad set it up for me in my play area in the basement, and we regularly roller skated to the tunes, swinging around the metal poles.

Space invaderA few years later, ATARI came on the scene, and it was all the rage.  We spent hours playing Asteroids, Pong and Pac Man, but I don’t recall being any less active, spending any less time with my friends, or having time limits for our “gaming”.  After all, not everyone had an ATARI.  It was somewhat of a luxury, like cable TV.

Remember fast-forwarding your cassette tapes to get to your favorite song? Fast forward to today. My how things have changed!! We now have the internet, laptops, desktops, smart phones, tablets, texting, iPods, iPads, Kindles, and all of the programs, apps, conveniences, efficiencies, and bells and whistles that come with them.  We all have and use them daily.  We rely on them and wonder how we functioned and succeeded before we had all of this technology at our fingertips. 

There are definitely benefits to these technological advancements in communication. We can communicate faster, more efficiently and with more people.  Facebook has allowed us to connect and share in many beneficial and rewarding ways. There is efficacy, value and significant power behind social media. We raise money, pay bills, break up, make up, check the weather, get directions, order products, watch movies, book flights, advocate, educate and inspire – all from our phones. 

I get it, and I partake.  However, I admit that I sometimes miss simpler times.  We might interact more, but are we better communicators?  Are the mediums constraining or enhancing what we’re trying to say?  Is our emotional intelligence being stunted and smothered with every selection of an emoticon?

I guess like most things in life, we have to seek a level of balance with our use of electronic communication.  As I write this blog, the irony is not lost on me. I just feel for the kids who will never experience the elation of using walkie talkies in the corn fields, or the excitement of getting to talk on the CB for the first time, “Breaker 1-9 for a radio check – how ‘bout a radio check.”  Do you copy?