1 EAGLETON NOTES: Communicating

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Monday, 9 June 2014

Communicating

I've just posted several letters, two post cards and a three notecards to friends and family in New Zealand and several other countries including England.

It made me think, once again, about the way we communicate now and the comparison with when I was born 70 years ago.  Then the only generally used methods of communication were face to face, the postal service a telegram or a telephone call.

In England the Royal Mail was established in 1516 effectively providing a publicly available second form of communication after word of mouth.

Telegrams provided by the railway companies provided a third means of communication and were taken over by the Post Office in 1870 but were finally abandoned in 1982. However  I've just discovered that http://www.britishtelegram.com will deliver an urgent telegram within two hours for a fee of about £60.

My parents had a telephone which provided the fourth means of communication before I was born but it wasn't the norm in those days.  Liverpool had, however, played quite an important part in the development of the telephone service in the UK when, in 1911, ATM based about 2 miles from where I was born became the first manufacturer of automatic telephone equipment in the UK.  In 1912 there were just over half a million phones in the UK and it was bought by the Post Office.  In my childhood it was still necessary to book calls abroad and until fairly recently phoning abroad was expensive.

Mobile or Cell Phones became available in the mid 1980s but it wasn't until the early 1990s with GSM in 1991 and then 2G that they came into general use in Britain.  I've had mine with the same number (with add-ons to the front as more numbers became necessary) since 1991.

More changes came in the mid 1990s when the Internet became generally available and with it came the World Wide Web. 

Since then the changes have been phenomenal.  I have been thinking over he last few days of the different ways I communicate daily with people all over the world and what form that communication takes.

Obviously this list is not exhaustive but these are the means of communication I use:
Via the postal service: letters, post cards, note cards and greetings cards
Via the 'landline' telephone service: telephone calls and text messages
Via the cellphone network: telephone calls and text messages
Via the Internet (which may be via the landline or cellphone networks): Skype (phone calls, video calls and text chats); Telegram App (instant messages and chats which may incorporate files, pictures and other data as one 'chats'); Facebook's Messanger App and Facebook's chat and WhatsApp (which are similar to the Telegram app);  post cards taken on my cellphone using ByPost or NZ Post's Send a Card; Instagram to share photos and doubtless other's I haven't remembered.
Finally (although it uses the Internet and WWW) there is blogging.

The world is truly a very small place indeed and most of the smallness came in the last twenty years.

With all that, though, what truly matters is not that we are able to communicate but what we say when we do.

12 comments:

  1. What seems to make it even more complex is learning to communicate with people in their preferred modes - and trying to coach them to contact me through mine! Jean

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    1. Hello Jean. I agree. One reason I have so many different methods is because I find it easier to adapt than to ask others to do so.

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  2. What I meant to say was.........just imagine, when you were born (and I was 10 years old!), being able to sit down each day and communicate with people all over the world via a computer while enjoying your morning coffee.

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    1. It really is amazing, Jill, isn't it. And to think so much of it has taken place in the last 20 years.

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  3. I can't remember when I last posted a letter. I do post parcels. I don't know how I managed before the internet.

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    1. Well I posted some today and I shall post some more tomorrow. I still enjoy using a pen Adrian. I would, however, be lost without the Internet.

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  4. Communication has certainly changed over the years. Sometimes it feels like a full time job just to keep up with all the constant technology updates. But hard to imagine now what it would be like to have to go back and not have access at all to "instant" (computer) communication.

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    1. It's true, Monica, that keeping up with technology has almost become part of everyday life and if we don't then so much becomes impossible.

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  5. I think the demise of letters - or their near-demise - is such a shame. Nowadays, what do people have to replace love letters (I have a boxful in the attic)? Everything now has to be so fast, so immediate; There's no waiting.

    Talking of phones, do you remember the old party lines, when you had to share a line with another household?

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    1. It's not just love love letters. When I moved to Scotland I wrote to my mother every week and she kept all the letters. It was a huge 'diary' in effect. Communication has altered so much over the last two centuries and striving towards faster communication has always been the aim: often prompted, of course, by military or commercial reasons. When the £10 Poms went to Australia and NZ in the 50s it took 6 weeks for a letter to get home to the UK. Now I can pick up my cellphone in the Australian outback and speak to my son in the middle of the Atlantic.

      We never had a party line but most people in the road did. I've never quite worked out how Mum (for the phone was Mum's 'thing' and Dad rarely used it at home) achieved that. It's another area where CJ and I have taken after different parents: I live with my phone and always have. CJ ceased to talk on a phone the day he retired.

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  6. Very thought provoking post GB, and a topic that I paused to think about a few days ago after I asked a friend whom I had not seen for many years, how I could contact her.....she started rattling off copious amounts of communications data on how she could be reached....about 10 ways in all.
    Then I started to count the ways I could be reached...3 email addresses, 3 phone numbers, FB, Whatsapp, Skype.....
    Wow, I remember growing up, it was just by letter or phone.

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    1. Yes Virginia and the more I look at the list I made above the more I realise there are things I omitted. When I was wring some letters and cards yesterday I realised, too, that one really has to think before one pens the words. I used to be good at spelling as well before the advent of the spillchucker.

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