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homing pigeons
dinner time
olympic games
different things
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communication skills
Reach Out And Talk
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Reach Out And Talk

There will be a time in life, some point off in the future, when we will look back and wonder why we put up with all of the different mobile devices. We will marvel at the new technology. We will look upon the past with the same condescending look we use today. But what is this new technology going to be? Will it look all that much different than what we have today?

In this article, we'll take a look at the evolution of communication between people. We will see just how much we have improved our ability to talk with each other more and more. All the while, we will see how these communication imrpovements have separated us even more.

So where did communication begin amongst the human race? Most scientists believe that speech in some form developed around 200,000 years ago. This could have included varied types of grunting sounds that meant different things. Humans would have need a way to talk or describe how to hunt, ways to prepare the food and simply say "Its dinner time."

We have come a tremendously long way in developing our communication skills. To put it in perspective, symbols were likely developed about 30,000 years ago and writing came into existence at around 7,000 years ago.

  • 1775 BC - A phonetic alphabet was first used by the Greeks.
  • 1400 BC - Here we have the oldest known record of writing on bones found in China.
  • 776 BC - The first text message; actually it was use of homing pigeons. A message was sent to the Athenians letting them know who was the winner of the Olympic Games.

We even find where early parchments or Papyrus rolls created from dried reeds first appeared in the 500 BC to 170 BC time period. You could consider these the first light and portable writing surfaces (devices). Think very early iPapyrus devices that in very basic concept are no different than today's iPad and other tablet devices.

Life began to evolve even more rapidly as human messengers on foot or horseback became common very early on in Egypt and China. It was not until 1861 that the Pony Express was developed in the United States. Many people thought that to be quite unique for its time. We even considered the use of smoke signals by American Indians as innovative, but this form of communication had been used many times for many centuries by different cultures.

As communication improvements occurred, it brought a large world, distant from each other, closer. By the early 1800s, use of the telegraph and Samuel Morse's code, news could travel huge distance in a matter of minutes. Previously it would have taken several days for news to get from one place to the next. It became increasingly more apparent that the world was becoming smaller with each new advance.

The telephone, became the first to crack open even greater ability for people to communicate with each other. You could be in New York City and speak to your son out west in Los Angeles, California. If you think of the phrase "Go west young man" and greater communication made this all possible. People could travel greater distances and still be in touch with each other.

Today, we have seen the computer and cellular phones narrow the distance even further. I can be on the road traveling most anywhere and contact my wife. An amusing thing to remember is that the one thing you never asked someone when calling them is "where are you?" Before cell phones, all telephones were hard-wired at a specific location. If you were calling that person, you knew where that phone was.

You might even say the person receiving the call didn't know where you were calling from. But then we invented caller ID which narrowed it down quite a bit. Yet with cell phones, I could be somewhere between Wahoo and Fremont, Nebraska, talking to my wife on her way home from work in Atlanta, Georgia. No strings or wires attached and the ability to bring us closer together in spite of the physical distance between us.

With all of this communication convenience, we have reached a point where we are allowing it to separate us as well. The idea of sitting down, face-to-face is becoming harder to do as people believe a text message is easier. I have personally experienced my children calling the our house phone from their bedroom using a cell phone. That would be the exception and not the norm, but think of how many times you have sent an email or text message rather then call that person directly.

Now think if you have done so when the other person is sitting in a cube at the other end of the room. Yes, it was convenient and expedient to do so. But you missed out on really interacting with the other person. You missed out on human connection. It could have been a conversation that was more personal and fulfilling. A text message may have gotten the response "yes I will, lol" but what did you really learn of that person's thoughts? By talking face-to-face you will have a real interaction, a real ability to know that other person.

Even with all the smart phone technology we have today along with 'Face Talk' and other technologies, we might be cutting through this deficiency in human communication. In the future, we will wonder why we ever sent an email or text message. Mobile devices will become a physical part of us with ear implants and video screens built into contact lenses. Video conferencing will take on a whole new meaning.

It all begs the question, at what point will we simply "dial up" another person by use of our brain alone. Will the time come when we can harness the brain's power to connect to another person by use of radio waves? I wonder if the movie "The Matrix" is all that far off in how we communicate with each other. Will all communication become a series of electronic messages and pictures being transmitted in such a way that it seems like we are right there talking to someone else?

Or will we come full circle and use our ability to see, hear, and talk to each other by actually being there; standing, talking, and being able to reach out and touch the other person? I for one do not wish to return to the days of grunts and gestures in order to talk to someone. But I do want to maintain the ability to actually sit down and have a real, face-to-face conversation with another person.

That means I'll have to send an email or text message to arrange a meeting, or maybe give them a call. Better yet, I'll just go and ask them in person.

Street Talk

Even though some of us might not talk as much to our friends and neighbors, the Internet offers an advantage over meeting people one-on-one. We get to reach millions of people all over the world. When we can encourage people and show them how to improve their lives, we can have an impact just through the power of words. I agree with you about one-on-one communication. That's part of the reason I do volunteer work at a church office.

  about 9 years ago

You have some great points here. The teenage to early twenties generation has difficulty with communication (both verbal and written) because they have had more technological, quick communication in their lives. Texting and online chatting using lots of abbreviations, many have large deficits in spelling and grammar. There is something to be said to an afternoon tea and a great conversation - face to face.

  about 9 years ago

I agree Aj! What happened to a good ol' conversation without having to decode the lingo. I think all this technology may be dumbing people down a bit....

  about 9 years ago

I would not say the people may be dumbing down. We are exposed to a lot more information than people who lived a century ago. With computers, students don't need advanced math skills, because computers do a lot of math for them. Some young people may have decided they did not need to know full words because abbreviations is a lot faster. Many people make the mistake of using the wrong words in sentences. Spell check doesn't catch all those mistakes. When people are in a hurry, they can easily overlook mis-spelled words or wrong words.

  about 9 years ago

Hi AJ, abbreviations might be faster. That is no excuse for not learning how to write. People still write papers for school. However, I have seen lots of mis-spelled words and mis-used words, because a spell-check on a computer does not figure out whether the word is the right one or whether it makes sense. For instance, someone can write "principle" instead of "principal" and vice versa. That's why we still need to know what words fit into sentences so other people can clearly understand the messsage.

  about 9 years ago
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