When you stop to think about it there are various electronic developments we now take for granted that were unimaginable not that long ago.
By John A. Schwarz
When you stop to think about it there are various electronic developments we now take for granted that were unimaginable not that long ago. Skype, for example, blows me away. We can talk to one of our sons and two grandsons for an hour for under a dollar. It’s ridiculous and, furthermore, we are looking at one another! If someone, ten years ago, had told me that something called Skype was in my future I would have thought I was having a conversation with a nutcase. When I was in the U.S. Navy, stationed in Japan, and called home it cost $5 a minute. Thus, a three-minute call would chew up about 35% of my weekly income. As you might imagine I didn’t call home very often. Oh, I almost forgot, the Skype calls to our son and two grandsons aren’t to Larchmont. They live in Singapore.
Email has changed our lives in so many ways that we could never have predicted in 1990. The advantages of having access to email are numerous. One habit that unfortunately seems to be increasing is that communications, in some cases, are becoming uncivil and unfriendly. Going back 50 years, or, for that matter 250 years ago, people wrote one another in a very gracious way. It would start off “Dear Jane” and finish with something like “Sincerely yours, Bill.” The letters, if written by educated people, would be well constructed, grammatically correct, and reflect a sound vocabulary.
Of late, I receive far too many emails that not only don’t begin with a “Dear John” and oftentimes not even a “hi”. And more and more conclude with nothing. It’s assumed that you know who sent it to you from the incoming email address. These correspondences are frequently grammatically ridiculous. The “you” has become “u”.
I think I’ve figured out what is going on. The “sender” wants to make sure that you, “the receiver”, realize the “sender” is very busy. The unspoken implication is that they assume you, “the receiver”, are sprawled out on a couch, munching on Lay’s Classic potato chips, clutching a remote, and watching either “Dr. Phil” or “Judge Judy”. I’m not advocating we go back to concluding our letters with “your most obedient servant”, but we can certainly write in a more polite and friendly manner.
Cell phones have been around longer than Skype but also were considered to be a miracle when they first came into use. Unlike Skype, cell phones do have a downside. The positives for having one are very understandable and cell phones play a very important role in today’s world. Among other things, they are responsible for bringing about the demise of pay telephones that used to be on thousands of street corners. The big negative, of course, is having self-centered forcing you to listen to their conversations. The absolute worst is being on a commuter train and being trapped.
My candidates for the winners in the most obnoxious category are: a) listening to two lawyers arguing with one another; b) a domestic argument that keeps rising in pitch as it nears the 20-minute mark. Actually, now that I reflect on it, “b” wins. I think I stopped commuting into New York City at just the right time. I do have a tendency to lose patience once in a while. By this time, I could easily have been engaged in more than a few extremely unpleasant confrontations. As technology advances, don’t be surprised if cell phone rage supplants road rage. Probably best to leave both at home.