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Talking It Over -- Communication changes all the time

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Each generation has its own way of communicating and receiving information. When I think back through the generations that I have been aware of, I am astounded by the changes in these methods.

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In the days of my grandparents, communication was usually a person-to-person thing. News traveled through visits at homes or businesses in the community, rare celebrations or weekly church services. They also received news from other areas through newspapers, radios and cards and letters. My grandparents spent many days writing long letters to family and friends, not only in other parts of the state or other states but also in other countries.

As I observed the communication system used by my parents, it seemed like they had come a long way from their parents. They were now able to talk on the telephone to neighbors, friends and family. There were more radio stations, more newspapers and several magazines. And television provided the news in a more timely manner. They still wrote lots of cards and letters but the delivery and return was faster. And they still spent many evenings visiting at the homes of friends and family members.

My generation took communications one step further. Calling took over for the letters. Television took over for the visits between family and friends. The radio was constantly on in the car, at home, at work and at gatherings. We slowly advanced in the computer and cell phone age and embraced these changes, sometimes with mixed emotions.

Today's generation has taken communication to a new level. Young people are constantly on their cell phones, not only talking but texting and sending or receiving emails. The computer is not just a source for information but also provides access to chat rooms, blogs and social networking Web sites, through which more personal information is shared, sometimes for all the world to read. They never have to worry about planning ahead to meet because all they have to do is call and let others know where they are and how long they will be there. Things are so easy but also much less personal.

So often the get-togethers at homes are forgotten. The phone calls to just chat are put aside and replaced with a one or two sentence email. Even things like birthday and get-well cards are substituted by e-cards, something you just have to click on and send. Talking and sharing is done on social networking sites like Facebook, with an entire list of people getting the same message.

I can't say that any certain generation had the perfect method of communicating. There were good and bad points about each. However, it would be nice if the younger generation would remember that communicating with parents and grandparents means more through a visit, letter, card or phone call. Many of us are lucky if we have a computer, much less chat rooms or blogs, to keep us informed.

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