How we communicate and who we are

Albert Kaufman

Telephone I was traveling last weekend in the Northern Cascades and stayed at a small cabin near Marblemount (raptor hunting - is what it's called when you go to see bald eagles...). They had a sign on the wall announcing that you could fax a page for $2. I smiled and remembered back to days living in Germany when I used faxes often and then came the internet. It seems that our way of communicating with one another keeps changing so quickly these days and there's something interesting about that to me.

Last night I attended a Kerns N'hood Association meeting. This way of communicating - face to face with a group of neighbors - mostly about landuse issues but also about Bikeways this summer (3 this year!!!) is so quaint, and unusual these days. I've always participated as an adult in community councils, so it comes somewhat natural for me to attend - but most people would probably feel pretty out of place there. Leap from that to what I did when I got home - watched a friend's live stream of his guitar shop as he builds guitars to checking my Facebook messages and Twitter feeds. Then, today's article in the O about FB got me thinking even further about how we communicate and who we are.

I am still a big fan of mailing things. I always have stamps and work to create a camp at Burning Man each year - the BRCPO - Black Rock City Post Office. I've pretty much stopped writing letters, except ones that I get prompted to send via groups like Oregon Wild or Onward Oregon, but I do still send postcards and letters from time to time.

What people 10-20 years younger than me use to communicate is probably a lot different than my own list.

What am I getting at? Well, I think there have never been as many ways to communicate as there are today, and it's kind of amazing me. Remember when calling was the way to commnicate, and how e-mail seemed to take that over? Well, I hardly get any personal e-mail anymore, and instead turn to tribe.net or FB to connect with people electronically. Luckily, I am connected in person with a lot of people in my community and see them at potlucks and dances, or else I'd be very limited in my connection to people.

I guess I just wonder where it's all going and what it means when we have such a diverse collection of ways to communicate and how that defines our lives.

Comments

  • James X. (unverified)
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    I just wanted to let you know that I read your post and appreciated it, even though I don't have much of a comment. Same goes to anyone else posting something not about Sam.

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    I am 65 and cannot keep up with all the ways of communicating today. I have a Facebook page but have not really figured out how it works. I rarely use my cellphone for text messaging.

    But, as an advocate of many more high school students studying abroad, I’ll note how communications today makes the study abroad experience much different than 30-50 years ago. Several years ago, when my son was at a soccer camp in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, we could talk to him on the telephone as if he were just across town. Now, I have a high school age niece spending a year abroad in Italy. She can talk online (including two way video) with her parents, and others, here in Portland at no cost. In the more distant past, time spent abroad was without phone contact except in case of emergencies. It was just too expensive.

  • Roy McAvoy (unverified)
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    "Same goes to anyone else posting something not about Sam".

    Hooray for James X!

    ...or about Obama and his family. God bless him, but let them be for gosh sakes.

    I talked about the same O article earlier today with my wife. We had a great discussion. We wondered if we were becoming less inclined to make ourselves ready for company as everything turns high tech. I mean, why tuck your shirt in and comb your hair for a little blog action, right?

    Anyway, I think getting out face to face with friends and neighbors is the right thing to do. There is a time and place for the PC, but face-book cannot replace an old fashioned sit down.

  • Bill R. (unverified)
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    I'm glad for the revolution in cyber communication and believe it is knitting together a global community at a faster rate than any might have imagined.

    That said, there is nothing to substitute for the sacrament of personal presence and the art of unhurried and intimate one to one conversation to grow and sustain friendship, be it in a marriage or in the wider circle of friends we may enjoy in our lives.

    Even in the political world insight, alliances, and understanding happen through one to one conversations.

  • Zarathustra (unverified)
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    Amen, Bill. I still find call waiting rude.

    BTW, why isn't BO on twitter? That's a good example of communication in search of a message. What motivates the twits that post every little thing they do in a boring day? I don't see why they don't post their bathroom breaks with results; it's the only thing left out.

    For blogs and news organizations it's great, imo, as you get asynchronous notification of new stories. Twitter was the first place I remember it being real that Obama was going to win the election, about a week beforehand.

  • Neal (unverified)
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    Hooray for BRCPO!

  • Ruby (unverified)
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    This is something I think about often. As a 40-something, I've lived thoroughly in both pre- and post- email worlds. For me, electronic communication is a love/hate thing. I have made some wonderful friends across the world - Scotland, Belgium, Japan - that I would never have met without it. On the other hand, I can count on one hand the number of times I've met face-to-face with friends in the past year. Aside from work and immediate family, I've become a physical recluse. I'm not proud of it, and it's taking a herculean effort to overturn it. Electronic communication feeds into my naturally homebody lifestyle, and I'm missing out on something important.

    As far as twitter goes, I can't see why anyone would be interested in what I'm doing on a minute-by-minute basis - that seems so egotistical. Great for news sites, overly indulgent on a personal level.

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