Thursday, October 07, 2010

Personal Space

And while we are on the subject of space… not outer but personal. (Although I do love SciFi – maybe next blob). Is it me or do you find that people no longer respect personal space. It used to be that when I was walking down the street or even in a hallway, people coming the other way, would not stop, but they would step over, so as not to knock you off your path. It used to be that when you were reading, or trying to hear some kind of announcement at an airport or on a train, people who were sitting near or next to you, did not yell into their cell phones or make enough noise to interfere with what you were trying to do.

There is no question that the growing use of cell phones in public spaces has something to do with the consequences (disturbing your neighbor), but what about the old concept of an using an inside voice and keeping your most intimate conversation, thoughts and feelings to yourself. Or how about the people on Facebook, who use the forum to fight with their children, spouse, and parents, to air their difficulties. It is truly astounding how much I know about people to whom I have never been introduced, and people who were my Facebook friends and I had to take off my list, because their chatter was absolutely boring or exceptionally embarrassing.

Remember last year, when we used a hard line touch tone phone, in the privacy of our own homes or a phone booth if necessary. Remember phone booths? Those were the things that you could find on most street corners in cities and towns across this great nation. Communications were simple. There weren’t twenty ways in which you could reach out and find someone or disseminate information. What’s happened lately is that people no longer talk. We are becoming a society that no longer depends on interpersonal relationships ( defined as looking someone in the eye or hearing their voice), to do anything. In business we e-mail or fax, (you remember the fax—that’s also becoming obsolete as well.) Personally, it’s Facebook, text, or e-mail. We have reached the point where my kids tell me not to leave voice messages when I call because they won’t acknowledge them. “Just text” they say. We’ll get the message – eventually.

Not that being able to communicate with everyone in the whole world, on some Skype like system, is a bad thing. It’s a good thing. Certainly it’s convenient for doing business. It saves corporations a great deal of money, it’s just that it can sometimes intrusive and sometimes too damn easy. Don’t misunderstand, I love being able to see my family and friends when they are great distances away. But the on-line visit is not appreciated in the same way it would be if it were in person. It has different dimensions. My conversations with my grandson, for example. The thing he likes best about them is the hanging up. He likes to make me disappear. He loves me, I know that. But it’s so much more fun to count 3,2,1, and poof – there I go. Very entertaining.

Anyway, new technologies can be time and money savers. But we (and our children and their children) need to be careful not to lose the ability to conduct one on one communication without it being removed by a text, e-mail, Facebook, Twitter or Skype. We cannot pass on a legacy of pictures or memories that can just be erased with the simple click of a button. And that’s pretty personal. We’re just sayin’... Iris

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