Sandy DicksonView all articles by Sandy Dickson
I’ll never forget the time my scheduled flight was delayed by several hours. No problem, I thought. The airport is full of people. I love meeting new people. I’ll talk to them—it will be fun. That’s what I’ve always done with some down time if there are people around. But it wasn’t to happen.
Everywhere I looked, people were otherwise occupied; either by working on a laptop, playing a hand-computer game or talking on a cell phone. One-on-one communication was impossible.
It never used to be like this. People were free and willing to talk to each other, make quick friends for a couple or few hours until their agenda was possible; either meeting a passenger or departing on a flight. Sometimes new acquaintances would even go to the airport restaurant and have a snack together. I know I have enjoyed that.
It was then I realized the value of bringing a book or a bunch of paper if one likes to write, to keep occupied in case there’s an unexpected delay. Communicating is certainly outdated!
After that, I started noticing how communication has changed in the world at large. People walk through parking lots carrying on a conversation the entire way into the store without ever taking the phone away from their face. They continue the conversation all the way through the store. Sometimes if they are wearing a headset, it looks like they are walking around talking to themselves. (Hey--wearing a phony headset would work out just fine for those who like to do that anyway.)
Then in the store line, they talk all the way through the sales transaction without even communicating with the clerk. The clerk verbalizes the total, as it is displayed visibly on the cash register. The customer carries on his business of paying with cash, debit or credit card—sliding it through that little receptacle, signing the paper and gathering his purchases as he walks off without ever taking his phone away from his face.
If you are close enough to a teenager, a very different type of dialogue has emerged too. The word ‘like’ punctuates every spoken sentence of conversation multiple times: “So I was like...” as the teen then describes his own end of the conversation. “Then she was like...” then quotes the other person’s response. Each description of every person involved in the conversation is defined with the word ‘like’ but it’s in reference to what each one had said.
Would people of years past even understand that sort of language?
Communication has sure changed. It’s more of an autonomous world now. People are self-contained in their own self-made universes, even among throngs of people who revolve around each other in their own self-entertainment or communication devices that shut out everyone else around them. They can isolate themselves despite and within crowds. There is rarely any more going out and playing kid games the children of earlier days knew, like Annie-Annie over, kick the can, dodge ball, hide-and-seek, tag. These activities all inspire camaraderie, sportsmanship and friendships as well as good old-fashioned exercise. Besides TV, now kids opt for texting, computer games, computer surfing and making entries on sites like Facebook, My Space and Twitter, most of which are indoor activities. Face-to-face interaction is not as necessary or desirable because there are too many options to exclude it. They don’t have to get together to fraternize now. They can go home, shut the door to their room and text, email, find out what’s going on in the lives of their peers on any number of the social networking sites, even if it isn’t true. They can even watch submissions of their peers on You Tube or submit their own.
People can walk through buildings, take train and bus rides, get stranded at airports, have meals in restaurants, employee or school cafeterias and not say a word to a face-to-face person around them. I kinda miss that. Is anybody else with me on that?
Yeah, times, communication and socialization have changed. Just sayin’...