By Lawrence A. Tartaglino
We are fortunate to live in this age of information and mass communication, as we are now given instant access to an abundance of ideas, knowledge, and concepts. At our fingertips is the ability to receive answers to almost any of life’s questions. We can witness live audio and video from around the world, from disasters to celebrations, from violence in the streets to the ratification of treaties and alliances. Have a question? Google it.
Just last week a friend told me that something was eating the rind off the lemons on his tree. He asked me if I had any ideas. “Google it”, I said. He Googled “What’s eating my lemons?” Within seconds he knew that he had roof rats and how to eliminate them.
Recently I read where scientists can communicate with a landing craft on Mars in about 13 minutes. Imagine that – communicating over nearly 40 million miles in 13 minutes; and we can communicate with anyone on earth in virtual real time! These are life changing developments, although not always for the best. I’ve come to realize that the better our ability to communicate, the less we do communicate with each other.
For instance, evenings traditionally were reserved for family dinners. It was considered a time to connect with each other and share events of the day. This form of interaction and communication was a way of strengthening family ties and values. It was also a way for parents to keep tabs on the activities of their offspring. So, what has changed? Families still dine together, both at home and in restaurants. And they communicate. You can witness this almost every day. Go to casual restaurant and you will see parents and children dining together.
Likely they will be communicating, not with each other, but on their mobile devices. With whom? I have no idea, but often they will never look up from their screens, and never utter a word to those at their table. Maybe they are texting others at their table, maybe not. Maybe they, too, have roof rats eating their lemons.
Try calling your bank, government office, or public utility. A recording will tell you that your call is very important to them, but wait times are unusually long. You will be put on a brief hold. Sometimes you could call Mars faster than you could get a human to speak to you.
Now we are getting 5G service on our mobile devices. We can be put on hold so much faster! It seems that as science and technology advances to improve our ability to communicate, our society seems to offset these advances with longer recorded messages, longer wait times, and fewer human beings with whom to interact.
For me, I love the fact that I can do research, read a book, watch a movie or performance from the comfort of my own home, coffee shop, or restaurant. And I can do it at a time of my choosing without having to communicate with another human being. I hate it, however, that these advances have led to longer wait times, more talking machines, and the lack of person-to-person, eye-to-eye contact.
We can Tweet and blog to our heart’s content, but we have difficulty conversing one-on-one. Let’s face it; it is easier to be rude when texting or talking on the phone that it is when you are looking someone in the eye.
What is happening to our social skills? Are they being modified and replaced by our advancement in technological skills? Someone said that technology is changing our sociology. Someone else said that technology is leading to artificial intelligence which will lead to machines taking over the world. Hope not.
For more information: L_Tartaglino@hotmail.com