Technological Contradictions

Have you ever wondered if technology really helps us develop better relationships?

I’m not saying I’d prefer to go back to the stone ages, but I like to think of modern advancements as supplements to a better life, not something that consumes our lives. Think about how many people you know who spend countless hours on Facebook or any other “socializing” interfaces. You see them posting how many points they scored in a game all day long and constantly nag you with notifications to join them. Sure, it’s a great way to “interact” with old high school friends, but too often I wonder if more fruitful relationships could be had with the core people in our lives if that same time was dedicated in visiting and really talking to the people who mean something.

As with everything, there are pros to using technology in relationships too. I Skype with my mom since we are thousands of miles apart. I get to see pictures of my nieces and nephews playing sports and read their highlights that their parents may not have figured important enough to call about. It really is a personal preference and I won’t judge anyone on how they chose to communicate, but I do fear for generations to come. Then again will they even know what they are missing? I got a birthday email from my grandmom this year instead of a card for the first time in my life. Will my children ever receive a card if her generation has already conformed to modern times?

One of my favorite things at antique shops are the old postcards. At first I felt like I was invading someone’s privacy by reading cute vacation messages from 1934, but then I started to romanticize the people who wrote and received these notes. I love that they are tangible. So much of what we write today is digital, lacks the penmanship and nuances that personal correspondence had. Who doesn’t love getting a written letter or non-digital birthday card? I realize postcards can be thrown out as quickly as text messages can be deleted, but to me it’s not the same; but who am I to judge as I write you from an iPad instead of handwriting you a letter. It’s a world of contradictions in my mind.

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Hands

This is my hand holding my Great-Grandmom’s hand.

By the time I was born, she was already 71. She had already lived a full life and had been retired. She’d be a widow a year later and I only knew her to be one. She would take me to bingo and we would play board games. She’d teach me things about cooking and tried to teach me to crochet. She was one of my favorite people and her hands always fascinated me, even the way she twiddled her thumbs.

Her hands had what she called “liver spots”, though most of us know them as age spots. She had been an avid gardener all of her adult life, so it was likely sun inspired damage. After she ate, I remember how she’d sweep her fingers over the table to gather any crumbs. Her fingers were strong and crooked and her fingernail and tips were oval. I just remember always thinking how unique they were. They weren’t thin and ladylike, though her movements were not harsh; they were the result of lifelong hard work.

I took this picture one morning when I sat alone with her before she passed. She was unable to speak, but she knew I was there as she squeezed my hand in response to my words. I knew I’d never forget her hands, but still I was afraid that I might. I haven’t forgotten, though it’s only been two and half years, but I like to know that I have a picture of one to remind me.

She would’ve been 100 this week. Happy birthday Grandmom.

Yes Bob Dylan, These Times They Are A’Changin

Though I believe in those words from Dylan, my ideas tonight are not quite as political or complex.  I’m not one to believe fully in global warming.  I do believe the earth changes and moves in cycles as it has for millions of years.  Do our habits assist with the change, I’m sure they do, but I wouldn’t blame it totally on humans.  I mean, cow’s gas (put nicely) contributes too right?  Don’t get me wrong, I do work hard to waste less and reuse more, but it’s not because of Gore encouraged me to, its because it’s the smart thing to do.  I realize my disbelieve in Al Gore’s Nobel prize winning film is bold because there are some people who fanatically still believe in it but regardless of the reason, the world is changing.  The atmosphere is changing, the way we live, communicate, work, play and function is changing around the world.

Today, on March 22, 2012 I laid on our hammock and it was 75 degrees.  It was after six o’clock, so the temperature had already dipped from today’s high.  The sun was still shining and I thought about how I couldn’t believe summer was already here.  But…it isn’t.  Summer is technically three months away.  Baseball hasn’t even seen its opening day but we are wearing shorts and preparing our garden at a time when in past years, the ground hadn’t even thawed out yet.

It’s not just the temperature.  It just feels like everything is changing so rapidly and with this, we grow more impatient still.  A slow website infuriates me.  Not long ago we’d need a phone book to find the phone number we needed.  Today, four seconds isn’t fast enough.  I can’t remember anyone’s birthday anymore either.  Google saves my arse by emailing me reminders and if that isn’t good enough, a notification pops up on my cell. My grandmother emails me “hello” and my husband’s grandmother sends me text messages about her health.  I realize this is more convenient, after all, who has time to sit on the phone with their family, right?  I hope you sense the sarcasm.

It’s a very convenient world, but it’s no less complicated and as time goes on, I’m torn about whether we’ll lose the human connection or not.  True, a text message is not as warm and fails to translate the lilt of a familiar voice, but maybe a quick message allows us to communicate more often.  I sometimes yearn for old fashion relationships and communication but I also have the ability to Skype with my Mom who is 3,000 miles away and see her regularly without paying for a plane ticket.  Remember when Spaceship Earth at Epcot was fantasy?  It wasn’t long ago that along the ride, the family of the future talked to each other over computers and saw each other on their phones.  It’s happened so fast.  I wonder where we are headed.

Old view on Spaceship Earth at Epcot, showing us the future of technology.

This post took a turn a bit from the weather, but as I lay in the hammock, before I drifted asleep, these are the things I thought about.  I awoke to the smell of fire and luckily it was my husband sitting close by in front of our chimenea, enjoying some peace and quiet on the back patio.  We sat together awhile and talked, and I suppose as long as we have good, solid moments where we still can connect to people face to face, we’ll all be alright.  And so, we’ll roll with the times, powered up and dressed for long summers.

 

(If you’re eager to get into the Spring/Summer 2012 mode, check out the post I wrote yesterday for Sprawling Roots.  I promise you’ll like it, whether you believe in global warming or not – http://sprawlingroots.wordpress.com/2012/03/22/time-to-prepare-your-green-garden/ )

Telegrams -stop- The lost communication?

Electric telegraphy is form of communication which began consistent and worldwide innovation in the 1830’s.  If you have ever watched an old movie, it was the classic way to send word of a scene changing moment.  Telegrams brought tragic news of a loved one to a family or portrayed a swoony leading man providing the details for a dinner date to his leading woman.

The word “telegraphic” actually means “short” or “terse”.  It was initially an unemotional way to send the facts, in a quick and direct nature that initially utilized morse code for practical purposes.  Innovators and scientists throughout the world can be credited for creating this early form of communication.   So many developments in such a short period of time were born of this invention, starting from beekers with coils and chemicals to ultimately creating the earliest form of fax machines.  Though we use telegraphy today, through higher technological avenues such as e-mail or text messaging, the first telegraphy outlet was quite slower and delayed any sort of immediate response.

Though the traditional paper telegram business has gone by the wayside, there are now websites that allow you to join in on the old-fashioned fun.  Just as there is something special about receiving an unelectronic birthday card in the mail, it can be exciting to experience something like a telegram, which was such a common and relevant piece of communication for well over a hundred years.

Check out http://telegramstop.com/which allows you to recreate the traditional telegram.  Having used them myself, I was quite impressed with their effort to make it look quite authentic. For those of you who are just simply too high tech, they also have an iPhone app.  Though they did raise their price in the last few weeks, for $6.45 it’ll make you want to pack your steam trunk and hop a train into the past.

Sample courtesy of Telegramstop.com