Sunday, April 6, 2008

Communication: Now And Then

Today's communication is often done indirectly. We have cell phones, television, automated answering systems for businesses that send us through button pushing hell, and answering machines that we often edit before we decide whether or not to answer the caller. We listen to our IPOD's and MP3's while we navigate through crowds of people. If all else fails in avoiding direct contact with others, we have the movies where we can sit and watch someone else's life unfold.
Cell phones in particular make me crazy. I noticed a girl in a checkout line at the store holding her cell phone to her ear. Once in a while she would look at the screen before placing it back to her ear. She seemed nervous, shifting her weight from one foot to another while her eyes darted around as if to see if anyone noticed that no one was talking to her on her cell phone. What was that about? While I was visiting a friend in the hospital, a nurse tech. came into the room talking to someone on her cell phone. She never greeted my friend or looked her in the eyes. She continued talking on the phone eliminating all contact with my sick friend.
What has become of us? There seems to be no tolerance for anything that isn't instant. A handwritten card is so worth the wait for the joy it brings me. On the Internet, my handwriting is like anyone else's but, the handwriting of a friend or dear relative is recognizable on sight.
When I wrote THE VIOLIN, besides my own experiences in life before computers, cell phones and IPODS, I researched what it was like in 1927 when not every home even had a radio or a phone. People connected face to face. They planned activities where they enjoyed each other's company. Writing letters was an art form with care and planning and careful use of pen and ink. There was personal interaction and all of this created a feeling of well being and belonging. It's wonderful to have technology. I'm using it right now to write this blog. But I never forget to visit my friends and send them handwritten cards and letters. It makes me feel closer to them. It makes me feel a part of the human race and I am reminded that I am not alone.
Sarah McNeal

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