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Ghost of Sam Post

Communication Puzzle

So you want to stay in touch 24/7. Okay, how can we do that? There must be a hundred ways to communicate with our fellow primates; let's look at a few. First, there's good ol' talking, face-to-face. This method goes back to caveman days when a grunt or groan, yell or scream would relay whatever you wanted to convey. This method worked well too, for many hundreds of years. During that time talking became an art. We developed languages and lexicons that covered the globe. For those versed in this form of communication, thoughts and feelings were easily transmitted and understood by almost everyone. But, what if you can't stand in front of the person with whom you wish to speak? Alexander came up with a solution. He invented the telephone and the people were happy (yay). We still used talking, but now we could talk to people who were many miles away. Telephones, then, are a second way to communicate.

The original phones were rudimentary and difficult to use, but they were a wonderful break-through for technology. Over the course of many years the telephone improved in quality and the service got much better. At the height of the "telephone age", somewhere in the 1970's I guess, the phone service was fantastic. You could talk on the phone to someone in Russia and, given that the two of you could speak the same language, you could enjoy a bright, clear conversation as if the Russian was standing next to you. Then the quality of telephones started to decline. For some reason (maybe partly because the government broke up AT&T?) the quality of phone service dropped dramatically with the advent of portable phones and cell phones. Oddly, the landline phones also declined in quality. Nowadays, the quality of these "toys", for they can't really be taken seriously, is so bad that they only work about half the time. I received a phone call recently from a relative. She was using a cell phone and the reception was so horrible that I told her she must have had the wrong number - I couldn't recognize her voice! And these silly toys are very expensive to buy and expensive to service. We're paying more and getting less. Is this called progress? Only by the insane.

A third form of communication can be seen in our "computer age." Computers, those wonderful tools that transmit blogs and store vast amounts of information, are sometime erroneously referred to as communication devices. In reality, computers prevent communication. They reduce our ability to communicate almost completely. Just think about it. In the communication process there are many factors. There is the spoken word, the facial expression, the tone of voice, the gesticulations of both people, the context, among other more arcane elements of the communications process. To dig further would risk becoming too academic. Anyway, computers eliminate almost all of the communicative factors. When reading a text message you can't even know the gender of the writer, let alone can you understand the passion of the message. Further, anyone could sign a fictitious name to the message. How would you know? Overall, technology has done more to disrupt communication than it has done to improve it. Without communication we can get very lonely and stressed. Severe stress leads to all sorts of dysfunctions and diseases. Maybe we would be better off with grunts and groans.

So says Sam Post.
 

Published May 07 2008, 01:58 PM by Sam Post
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