Click, send. It’s 2022. All we want is an easy life after all. And what could be easier than being able to communicate with anyone in the world, anywhere in the world? Instantly.
Nowadays, a bad WiFi connection or an email that has mistakenly made its way into the spam folder is enough to have us cursing this bloodyuselessstupidtechnology.
Not all generations have experienced the wonder and ease of instant messaging, directly at their fingertips.
Nor have all generations experienced the excitement of receiving a soggy postcard through the letterbox, or the anticipation of being read a telegram by a stranger on their doorstep.
Some generations have experienced both. To them I pose the question:
Given the choice, a real “you HAVE to choose or [insert precious loved one] will die” type of choice, would you:
- Return to hand-crampingly “simple” times, ink and all
- Maintain the means of communication and connectivity we have today?
Maybe the choice is obvious and you don’t need to waste seconds evaluating the worth of your pet/sibling/other’s life. Because, if all you’ve ever known is the ability (see: pressure) to respond immediately with the sender knowing whether/when you read their message, and being contactable round the clock, I need to take you back a few moons.
So, imagine this. It’s 1975. Your (fairly modern) school have assigned you a French penpal, Antoinette.
She writes to you in fluent English and you, in turn, top and tail your extremely neatly-written letters with a Bonjour and Au revoir for good measure. You feel continental and chic when she sends you clippings from French fashion mags and you respond with gossip about your gal pals. There is a likelihood that you will never actually meet, yet you consider her one of your closest friends.
This was a relationship built on a level of trust alien to the savvy internet users of today; trust that no-one would read your exchanges, not the nosey postman, nor her nosey parents, not to mention the great deal of trust placed in the capabilities of the carrier pigeon to deliver your letter in the first place…
Months could go by before the letter is in your hands (through no fault of the pigeon) and the stamp was a tell-tale of where in the globe it had traveled. Whether a tear-with-excitement or a fetch-the-letter-opener type, you pour over every word. Then you read it again, and tuck it away under your mattress or in a big old chest for safe-keeping. No number of likes on your Instagram selfie can compare to such a thrill.
I’m glamourising nostalgia of course. Patience was a virtue. And patience has its limits.
After all, there’s never a good way for bad news to be delivered. One can only imagine the pain of waiting months for an update on your soldier son in a cross-ocean conflict. Or what about being notified of the death of someone close via social media amidst a casual lunch-break scroll…
Like I said, you HAVE to choose (or else).
Enjoyed this cruise through the sea of methods of communication? Get your fill of wing-ed words here.