Thanks for the post yesterday about Dad. As always, I think of him a lot at this time of year—and I wonder what he’d think about us writing a blog together, or keeping in touch by text messages and Skype? Not much, I’d bet.
He was pretty dismissive of email and cell phones when they came out, and preferred to keep in touch by fax. Mum made the horrible strategic error of buying him his own fax machine some time during the 1990s, and he used that infernal machine to send out reams and reams of stuff: newspaper articles he wanted us to read, usually packed with his own caustic marginal notations; pictures that would come through blurred, stretched, and indecipherable; and letters, usually hand-written, always containing elaborately detailed descriptions of the latest meteorological conditions.
Dad loved to fax, no doubt about it. It was his way of keeping in touch with all three of us, and I think he thought it was pretty high-tech and spiffy.
Does anyone even own a fax machine these days? Aside from car dealerships, that is? I haven’t seen one in ages. Not that I’m complaining.
I wonder what Dad would think if he knew that we keep in touch with our own kids through a combination of text messages, tweets, Skype calls, Facebook chats, and the occasional email? (Good lord—email has now become old-school? Already? But they only just invented…oh, never mind.)
I get multiple texts each day from both my kids, and I’m sure you get them too…and I don’t think twice about it. It’s perfectly natural for me to pick up my phone and see a note from Adrian informing me about something he’s seen online that might amuse me, or a comment from Rachel about some assignment she’s working on. And just now, we had a Skype call from Rachel, who wanted to show us (among other things) the little pumpkin she’d carved into a jack o’lantern.
We think nothing of this “face-time” now, but I remember when the idea of being able to actually see someone when you called them on the phone just struck us as unbelievably outlandish. Probably just as outlandish as “email” sounded to Dad, who figured his foray into the world of high-tech faxing was just about as far as he was willing to go. Oh, that and his CB radio. “Breaker…breaker…”
Dad’s imagination could only extend as far as a world in which you could send a facsimile of a printed page to someone else at the speed of a phone call; we are only able to conceive of a world where we thumb-type messages onto a touch-sensitive keypad on a smartphone, or hammer keys on a keyboard, or use our computers’ webcams to simulate face-to-face conversation.
All of which makes me wonder: what’s next? Because technology doesn’t stand still—the tech wizards are always coming up with new ways for us to reach one another. Communication is such a basic human need, and we seem to be communicating faster and faster, with the velocity increasing at a dizzying rate (though I sometimes question whether we actually say much more).
I feel like you and I are pretty tech savvy, with our iPhones and iPads and Twitters and Facebooks and such…but I have the uncomfortable feeling that years from now, my own kids will look back condescendingly and say, “Aw, poor Mum—she tried, really she did, but she just couldn’t get beyond using her computer to send us messages. If only she could have embraced [insert name of yet-to-be-invented technology here]—she would have found it so much easier!”
To which I say, stow it, kid. Just be glad I don’t own a fax machine. Or a CB.