Gary Conkling Life Notes

Mostly whimsical reflections on life

Connecting Without Communicating

When did we become addicted to email? Why do younger people prefer texting to email? And will those just born scorn the whole idea of communicating?

2016743853These are the questions we could have counted on Andy Rooney to ask. Of course, that was way back when we were all addicted to television.

Rooney would have ruminated on these questions of how human beings connect. I imagine he would have taken us to the days of cavemen when people communicated with large clubs, eventually graduating to tom-toms.

Rooney would observe that humans gradually have grown comfortable with technological innovation – fire, the wheel and electric toothbrushes. This hasn’t been a completely smooth transition. Some humans rejected innovations, such as the French giving up for a century or so the use of deodorant – or soap.

Mankind has slowly improved his ability to communicate with others – hieroglyphics, drums, letters, the telegraph and ultimately the telephone. We generally have given up on drums, letters and the telegraph to communicate and now focus almost exclusively on graffiti and mobile phones.

Go anywhere and you are apt to see graffiti and gaggles of people staring at the varying sized screens of their mobile phones.

070502_Browser_EmailTN_thumb[2]Mobile phones have advanced to much and so rapidly, we now call them smartphones. The same can’t be necessarily said about the people who use smartphones.

Along the way, people have tuned in to radio and television and glued themselves to computers and electronic gaming boxes.  Apparently these were all John the Baptist devices, intended to lead us to the ultimate salvation of smartphones, where we can hear, see, talk and play on a single device.

The evolution isn’t over. Technologists are tinkering with all-purpose glasses that remove the need to move our fingers; we just move our lips to issue commands.

A larger version of all-purpose glasses are cars with hands-feree, voice-command computers that can dial up calls, play our favorite music, show us where we made a wrong turn and find Howard Stern.

Televisions are trying to make a comeback as devices we command, instead of NBC and Fox. In addition to stopping the action or fast forwarding, we can tap into the cloud to play games online, pay bills and watch an entire season of House of Cards over a long weekend. But, of course, we can do all that on our smartphones, as well as find out the time and weather outside.

The ultimate may be brain chips, making smartphones standard equipment on human beings. The chips could be inserted at childbirth, so little ones grow up with familiarity of using odd amalgams of letters such as OMG and LOL and cute emoticons to communicate with expression.

Sending messages to other humanoids will be so second-hand they won’t have to think about it, which will be perfect for people who have lost the ability to think about communicating in something approaching personal contact.

Funny cardThe handshake is out because of the possibility of passing along germs. Kissing is reserved for major award ceremonies and weddings. Dancing is a communal affairs. Hugging is acceptable, but preferably only in coffee shops and Hallmark Card stores.

Actually talking is passé. Why bother when you can text whenever and wherever you want.

However, it is unfair to criticize new technology for the demise of creativity. I wrote this entire spiel on my smartphone while sitting in a cubicle, responding to emails and avoiding eye contact with all the people lurking nearby. As Andy Rooney would ask, what can be more creative than that?



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