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Katie Erdman

Talking it over: Life without instant communication

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Morris, 56267
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Morris Minnesota 607 Pacific Avenue 56267

I often stop and wonder how we ever survived 40-50 years ago without cell phones, email, texting, Facebook and Twitter. How did we keep in touch, up to date and express our thoughts to the world? Well, we managed and I have to say that it may have been more difficult, but it was also more private and personal.

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In the 60s and 70s you had to rely on the telephone, snail mail (as it is called today) and face-to-face conversations in order to get messages out there. Most of the time, these conversations dwelt on the most important issues first and if time allowed more personal sharing. If you wanted to meet up with friends, you had to set a time and place ahead of time along with details about the event that could be shared with parents.

Dating in those days was also more planned and specific. Dates were arranged in advance and you had to know when you would be picked up, where you were going and when you would be home. There were no cell phones that gave you the opportunity to inform parents if you were going to be late or had a change of plans so you had to make sure you stuck to the plan.

In some ways, I think the advantages of new technology would have been nice in those days. Arriving home late and missed communications often caused problems that can be avoided today. Letters and phone messages were not always reliable and some people totally shied away from that type of communication. I can recall a few situations where it would have been nice to be able to email back and forth or even send a quick text.

Teenagers today have it made in the communication category but the instant messaging could also make it so that they don't have to look ahead or be aware of timetables and time constraints. News can be spread instantly, often overlooking the fact that family and close friends should maybe be informed first. It can often cause them to make last minute decisions or even avoid making decisions at all. After all, they don't have to look a person in the eye and tell them they are not going to join them or see them.

It is just that, that is missing. The personal, look-them-in-the-eye, type of contact. Explaining your actions face-to-face, not through abbreviated text language. The one-on-one sharing that means so much.

I have to admit that for teenagers, this type of contact has probably been an issue over all the decades. We have all had to learn how to face people and communicate in an adult manner. It is just that with technology today, that kind of communication is more instant and impersonal. Somehow, and sometimes, we need to speak directly to a person and show them through our actions and expressions, exactly how we feel.

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