Sunday, January 24, 2016

Can you hear me now? Hello???

There is something strange afoot.

Back in the hazy days when our phones became mobile--but not yet smart--we rejoiced. Some of us may have wondered why anyone would WANT to be reachable 24/7, but we jumped right on that bandwagon, anyway. It's seductive, this idea that we can talk to anyone, anywhere, anytime we want.

And, let's face it. Being able to call our road service right there, from the road, is a significant safety factor. No doubt about it. At least our mother knew we weren't in that ditch, dying, alone......

The ladder of success for each of us now also had a phone available at the touch of speed dial; we could get that critical business call immediately that might give us an early leg up to the next rung, even if it might be on the back of one of our coworkers.

Good stuff, huh? And when our new toy rang, we answered it. Right away. After all, wasn't that the whole point?

Then, our phones got smarter. Instead of ringing someone and chatting or asking that critical question (or telling Mom where we are, no it never ends), voice to voice, we can turn our phone into a mini-computer and type or message, push "SEND" and our words teleport from here to there instead.

But, as in most things relating to technology, something interesting--frustrating, infuriating, maddening--has happened to change this dynamic. Before, in the olden days, when we called someone on the phone and asked a question, they answered the question. Or maybe said something rude to the caller about such a stupid question, but either way, a response was forthcoming. We knew something lived and breathed at the other end of the phone connection. A handy thing in most cases. So, what's changed?

This "improved" method of communication has begun to work in reverse. The asker texts (or email is possible, too, what with these phones being so smart, remember) the question and then.....waits. And waits......some more.

People over the age of about 30 now have an internal dialogue kick in.

**Did they get my text?
**Are they looking for the answer....somewhere? (How about that same really smart phone?)
**Should I send the question again, just in case? I don't want to be a nuisance, but I do need to know what's going on.
**Are they ignoring me??

It's like having a face-to-face conversation, asking a question, and the other person silently turns and walks away. Silence, in this case however,  is not golden. We're using our "improved" avenues of communication as walls between us, a layer, of protection against actually talking to each other. Yes, conversation is often messy and it requires a bit of thought, but it's the glue that holds us together, not simply as individuals but as a society. Without it, we're all wandering around in the wilderness, alone.

With a smart phone that is silent.

It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity.
Albert Einstein

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