Sunday, 9 August 2015

Writing - Life before the phone

I attended college over 100 miles away from home in the late 60s early 70s without a telephone. It would have done no good because my parents didn't have a phone.

Image result for 1960s telephone

Eventually in 1980, shortly after my first child was born, my parents were persuaded to have a phone installed and looked something similar to the above. How did we manage?
Well I managed by writing letters to mum and dad for which they periodically sent stamps. Does anyone write letters now? Well I do to a friend, Bert Carson, in Alabama, USA. I write them long hand with a fountain pen fuelled with Quink, blue/black ink.

Image result for quink blue black

It was quite nostalgic when Bert said that he was beginning to write letters to some of his writing colleagues and they could set up links by post. There are a number of advantages. It allows the writer to pause for thought  and carefully structure what they are going to say. Modern communication is so fast that there is little consideration for manners, sensitivity, structure and subject.

In the early nineties my father died so he never knew of laptops, tablets or mobiles, although desk top computers were beginning to be used in businesses and schools. They were the type of computers that had a tape recorder from which you loaded software which was held on cassette tape. My mother who lived until she was 90, 3 years ago, never owned a computer or mobile phone.

Image result for mobile phones and pram pushing
The saddest photo
Nowadays we have smartphones that are so powerful they are overtaking computers for the way people access the internet. All of the above raises a question in my mind about what we did before the advent of the mobile and the internet. Well I think the answer is that we waited.
The above photo is the saddest I have personally encountered. What needs to be said here and now that is more important than the welfare of a child? I am not claiming to be a brilliant parent, it's one of those jobs that most adults acquire an understanding of by practice. I'm sure all of my kids could point out mistakes I've made over the past thirty odd years, but when we were together, walking in the countryside, or in town, they were spoken to and shown things. There was nothing that needed to be said to anyone that was so urgent you needed to be texting it immediately.

Image result for quality or quantity

The obvious question to me is what is the quality of the communication like if we are communicating in such quantity? Being old enough to remember a time before instant communication I wonder how much thought is being put into what is being said. How many arguments begin, or jobs are lost, because of a misunderstood word sent through the ether without a moment's thought?

I used to say that the telephone made me nervous because it was possible to say things to a person you couldn't see, that could cause conflict. 

I worked for six years in a call centre, taking calls from a bank's customers, eight hours a day, and was abused at times, as were all of my colleagues, because the customer feels emboldened by the fact that they can't be seen. It sounds alarming that people can be like that and yet I witnessed swearing and personal abuse of my colleagues that led to them being upset and having time off the phones to recover. I believe that I can safely claim that those abusers wouldn't have behaved in such a way if they had been face to face with the bank person. Such cowardice is unpardonable but isn't it brought about by the impersonal nature, and speed of electronic communication?

So when you take out your mobile to contact another person have it in mind the age old saying 'don't treat others any differently than the way you would like to be treated yourself'.

God Bless