The Good Old Days

What has happened to communication?  It used to be that if you wanted to talk to someone you wrote them a letter, met in person with them, or called them on the telephone with a rotary dial that was in the front room.  What happened to the good old days?

Let’s start with written communication. When was the last time you wrote a letter, put a stamp and a wax seal on it, and mailed it so that rain, snow, sleet, or shine postman could always be on time?  I’m not being sexist. That’s the jingle I wrote on the envelope when I sent a letter to my cousin who lived in the next town that was 6 miles away. I didn’t know any better and neither did anyone else. If I were writing that jingle today, I would certainly use postal person instead of postman. Oh, now that I see that in writing I should probably rethink it.  Anyway, I knew my cousin got the letter and understood it when I got a letter back from her about 2 weeks later.

Okay, so let’s move on to talking in person.  When I met up with my friends in the small town where I lived, we would spend hours playing outside and talking-talking directly to each other.  We didn’t send texts to each other as we laid in the big field watching our wedding fly by overhead.  I know, I know, you’re saying, “What the heck is a wedding flying by overhead?” Well, in the fall, when the birds migrated south, they would travel in big flocks that were miles long.  We would lay in the field and claim a big flock by saying, “there goes my wedding.”  Big flock, big…Now, come on, get your head out of the gutter…guest list, big guest list. Anyway, we talked and we talked to each other without pulling anyone else in or having a permanent record of the conversation.

Talking also happened on the telephone. It was just me and the other person. Well, one friend’s family had a party line so at times, other people who were part of the party were on the line too.  But the truth is, we talked on the phone to each other live.  No recordings, voicemails, or voice-to-text features. There was no confusion about who said what, what they said, or what they really meant.  I said it, they heard it and if they were confused, they asked questions to clarify. And when we hung up, both of us knew what was going on.

I miss those days and here’s why.  The other day I sent a 2-sentence reminder email message to one person. Over the next 8 hours, that person pulled seven other people into the conversation that ended with rhetoric totally unrelated to the original message. The chain of emails grew to include seven messages and an unknown number of side conversations that I wasn’t privy to. If only I had written the first message in a letter and mailed it, or laid in the field or picked up the phone and talked directly to the person I sent the reminder to, seven other people wouldn’t be up in my business for no reason and I wouldn’t be bitter about it all.  What happened to the good old days?

Thanks for sharing in the laughter!

Eliza G.

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