Does anybody else remember the days when our only means of communication was a hand-written letter sent by snail-mail, or by a telephone which was connected to the wall by a wire, often located in the chilly hallway of your house, if you were lucky and didn’t have to walk down the road to an icy public telephone box? And I’m sure every child has had the pleasure of the tin cans connected by a piece of string.
If a friend moved away, possibly to a different country, we often lost contact after the initial eager letter-writing to see how they’ve settled in, what their new home and lifestyle is like. We often didn’t see them again, as air travel was very expensive and not within the realms of the everyday person.
Our world was a relatively small one, confined to family and close friends.
Just look how far we’ve come in only 20 years. We have gone through the evolution of cordless phones, car and mobile phones the size of a brick and available only to the world of the uber-rich, to mobile phones smaller than your hand, that access the entire world of the Internet, and considered an everyday item to even the least well-off in our first-world society.
We can carry a whole library of books, music and films around in our pocket, and we can contact almost anyone, anywhere in the world in a matter of minutes, they are no further than our fingertips.
No longer do we have to suffer the engaged tone down the telephone handset, sometimes for hours if the receiver has been knocked off the telephone. If someone is unavailable at that moment, we simply send a text, an email or a message to their social media account, that usually leads to a response within minutes.
Our social circle has rapidly expanded, and many of us now actively engage with many people from all over the world. We get to know about their different lifestyles, their culture, the different and delicious foods. We share ideas, recipes, jokes, views and opinions, and best of all we can offer support and love to people we have never even met, but we are all connected.
When I was ill and housebound for some time, my online friends, many of whom I have never met, supported me, lifted my spirits, helped me laugh.
I have a friend in Sweden who I hadn’t had contact with for a couple of years as she is not connected to the Internet in any way. I had lost her address and telephone number. I had an impulse to contact her, and remembered I had her son’s email address as a result of sending her some photos, via him, a few years ago. So I sent him a quick email, reminding him who I was, and asking how his parents are. My friend phoned me the very next day, and was so pleased I had got in touch. Unfortunately her husband had passed away just a couple of weeks before, so even though it was very sad news, I was pleased to be able to comfort her at this time, and I am making arrangements to meet up with her at their villa in Spain very soon. I have also set up a Skype account to enable me to keep in touch with her more often by telephone very inexpensively.
Yesterday, I had the pleasure of meeting up with a group of friends about 40 miles from my home. These friends all met through the Internet, specifically Facebook, as we are all interested in positive thinking and personal development. It is lovely to connect with so many like-minded people from far and wide. One lady travelled 2.5 hours by train, and another travelled 3 hours by car to be there. We are all in contact almost daily through Facebook, but there is something really special about meeting up in person and sharing such positive energy, and amazing conversation and food together.
As I have now connected with Skype, it is my aim this month to have some lovely voice conversations with good friends I have known for a long time, but never met or spoken to, some for 5 years.
Technology has helped keep us safer. In the event of an incident, such as a car breakdown, or being delayed on a journey, we can call for help and assistance, and we can contact loved ones to reassure them of our safety. We can allow our teenage children more freedom, knowing there is contact should we need it.
I am eager to see what the near future brings to connect us even more closely. Perhaps teleportation so I can just nip over the other side of the world for a quick coffee or meal with even more great people?
My only challenge is keeping up with the technology. Luckily I have 2 sons who were born technology-ready, so they have helped to drag me (sometimes kicking and screaming) into the 21st century.
What is your favourite blessing to come from technology?
How would you like to see technology progress?