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10 years ago

by Bav Dav 

Posted: 10 January 2005
Word Count: 593
Summary: Musings

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10 years ago, if you wanted to get a message to your friend, in a hurry, you would phone. If your friend wasn’t in you would leave a message and not worry too much about it. Simple as that. Now imagine that you need to get a message to a friend right now, count the ways that you can do it: call their landline, call their mobile, send an email, send a text message, send an instant message, a voice mail, call across the room (anyone else uneasy about getting emails from colleagues who sit less than 20 feet away?). Sounds much better doesn’t it, so many ways to make contact. Why then, is life so much more stressful now?

The ease of communication brought about by the mobile phone revolution and the Internet looks, on the surface of it, to be a wonderful advance. Information passes freely and quickly from person to person, from gadget to gadget keeping people informed, keeping the flow of information running smoothly. The problem however is that there is now no effective way of taking a break from these communications. If you don’t answer your mobile phone, it tells you that you missed a call, tells you who called and if you’re very unlucky they’ll have left you a voice mail. Go a couple of days without checking your email and you will come back to an in-box crammed with messages (albeit mostly promoting dubious claims of debt relief and Herbal Viagra). The communication doesn’t stop just because you do. The stress comes from having to play catch up all the time, our mental freedom has been taken away we’re incarcerated in a prison made from 1’s and 0’s and no amount of hack(saw)ing is going to get us out.

100 years ago, if you wanted to get a message to your friend, in a hurry, you would write a letter and put it in the post-box. It would take anything from 2 days to 6 months to get to your friend depending on where in the world your friend lived. There were no telephones and the world wide web was a sticky scene in an arachnophobic horror yarn. So was life stress free?

The truth is that people can only use the tools at their disposal to get their messages through; stress still existed but was at a much lower level. Worrying about whether your fiancée still carried her torch for you while you were overseas on business was probably pretty hard to bear while you waited months for the return of perfume scented post. Doctors never recognised stress then, tending to put stress related symptoms down to broken hearts and the like.

When you look at the advances since then, the state of play 10 years ago looks pretty darned stressful in comparison. So are we living in a society where information overload is going to tear the fabric of human decency apart? Are we all going to be reduced to gibbering wrecks with the release of sensual messaging or whatever they think of next? This observer doesn’t think so.

In 100 years time (or possibly 10), someone will compose an article entirely with the power of the chip inserted in his or her brain. The article will instantly be available through the Neural Net to all of the worlds flustered and overworked citizens, the article will muse on the simplistic beauty of life in the formative years of the 2nd millennium. I’m guessing that they still won’t be able to work the video recorder.

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Comments by other Members

Kara at 16:46 on 18 January 2005  Report this post
yeah your're right.

Bav Dav at 12:33 on 19 January 2005  Report this post
I know

little monkey at 23:29 on 23 May 2005  Report this post
To quote: "call across the room (anyone else uneasy about getting emails from colleagues who sit less than 20 feet away?)."

Indeed I do. But what is more disconcerting is when, in your open plan office, everyone is clicking on "send/receive", everyone is laughing. You did not get the email. Is it paranoia or should I start buying my clothes from shops that do not give all their money to charity?

I only remember a world with computers and email. Did people pass notes in offices before email?

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