I truly miss the days when people sent handwritten letters or cards through the post or called on the phone just to say hi. Though I am sure most of us if not all, do keep in touch with friends and family via free text apps on smartphones, social media and email, in my personal opinion the kind of personal touch and the warmth that you could almost peel off from the physical letters and cards or pick up from the familiar voices on the phone is not something that could be duplicated by the many cool, and cold forms of communication tools that are readily available in the digital era that we are now in. Call me a sentimental fool if you like!
I remember most of us during our school days would almost without fail name “stamp-collecting” as one of our hobbies (remember those days?), I wonder how many of the younger generation now know what it is. First day covers? Aerogrammes? (Oh I really make myself sound like a geriatric!) I was relayed a real incident not long ago that a couple of youngsters actually had no clue where on an envelope to affix the stamps when they were required to send some documents by post! Was I surprised? Not at all!
I believe it is worse in the Asian countries than in the western world where mobile phones are concerned as everyone here has one and is pretty much on it anytime, and anywhere! It is a norm now to see that when one family sits down for a meal in the restaurant, every single one of them from the parents down to the children are on their phones. They are on it while waiting for the food to arrive and immediately after the meal, and sometime even while eating! I bet if I throw the words “social etiquette” in their faces they will probably look at me blankly and ask what it is! I once attended a wedding dinner and among the people I was sharing the table with, there was this twenty-something young professional woman who spent the whole time on her mobile phone texting, checking out Facebook posts and surfing the net. She made it crystal clear that she had absolutely no interest in having any interactions with the rest of the people sitting at the same table. That is immaturity, rudeness and detachment in the highest from!
I recently heard someone give a word of wisdom on the local radio station where he reminded parents to put down their digital gadgets to spend some quality time with their kids. I realise in reality that is only a part of a bigger puzzle as it is not just a matter of parents making time for their kids, they have to know how to control and not to give too much freedom to their children on the usage of high-tech digital gadgets. If not, there would be a huge possibility that when you are sparing time for your offspring, they are the ones who are too engrossed in their gadgets to want to spend time with you! It happened to me a few Sundays ago when I had my two teenage nieces and 7-year-old nephew over and they spent most of the time ignoring me and never paid heed to my plea for some attention. I was the one who was desperately in need of hugs and kisses!
Free texting apps on smartphone have taken over our life and changed the whole social landscape like never before. Whether we like it or not, this way of communication is here to stay and I cannot even start to imagine where it is going to take us. I cannot deny how convenient texting is and in fact, the accessibility and the instant gratification of getting an immediate response has also helped me keep closer in contact with some of my friends in the neighbouring countries as well as overseas. Nevertheless, there are times when I still prefer to pick up the phone and call; it is not just for the personal touch but also for better communication especially where work is concerned. It is far more efficient and things get done faster with a phone call instead of me sitting there taking time to text and then waiting for the other party to reply.
In real life communication, people can gauge your emotions and reactions from the tone, speed and volume of your voice. How about texting? From a recent exchange between two ladies in a chat group I was shocked to see that as the chance of people actually hearing the others’ voice is greatly reduced, over time they have incredibly developed the ability to interpret and decipher the tone and meaning of the other party by simply looking at the words, grammar and punctuation marks used in the text messages. In this case, one party retorted upon reading the reply from the other, “How can you exclamation-mark me? You are insulting me!” I shook my head in utter disbelief! Can you imagine if someone types the whole sentence in capital letters? I guess “How dare you scream at me?” is a possible response!
The advancement of modern technology and innovation in this digital age has undeniably hugely improved and enhanced not just our lifestyle but transformed our lives all together, but at the end of the day, are we risking turning our next generation into one generation of human beings that hide behind some advanced and high-tech gadgets and can never communicate effectively with another human beings face to face except through some form of digital tools?
Anyway, I think that is enough of me ranting… I should better go and ring my elderly mum on her land line to say hi. I can always pick up the hint of undisguisable happiness and smile in her voice when she answers the phone and realises it is me. Now, that to me is definitely something which the digital communication in the form of text messages and emoji cannot convey despite of how wonderful and visual they are!
Until next time, bye for now!