Monday, April 10, 2006

Electronic Noise

I read an article this week that told me that within 10 years we will no longer have any “land based” phone systems in place. Even computers will be satellite based for email. I am to the point where I am ready to get rid of my house phone and go completely cellular. My wife still needs the phones for her computer and can’t quite break the old reliable phone umbilical. I never answer it. The only people that call on our landline is phone marketers or people looking for my wife – neither of which impels me to answer.

I can remember when the phone at my house in Indiana had a distinctive ring so you could tell if it was for you or your neighbor. Often you would pick up the phone and discover someone a few houses down talking on it. We called it a “party line” not for the fun you could have listening to your neighbor’s conversations but for how many parties or people were on the line. Remember rotary phones? Remember crank phones? Now we only see them in museums and novelty shops but when homes were hooked up with those crank phones there was an outcry because people thought you wouldn’t go out and see your neighbor any more – you would simply call them. The fear of “disconnectedness” with each other filled the land.

We heard the same complaint when Radio and TV became popular. Then later as Color TV and better phones kept people in their homes. Nowadays we hear the Internet and cell phones disconnect people and keep them home.

I find the opposite to be true. Here is my evidence: Salespeople. Door-to-door salesmen and women would hit your house once a year – maybe. Salespeople would get to you only when you shop or when you opened a newspaper or magazine. NOW how often are you accosted by a sale? TV ads appear almost as much as the show does. Pop-up ads appear on your computer every few minutes or every time you sign on. Cell phones with web access send you messages of super discounts. Telemarketers are every other call on your phone at home and even calling cell phones to make a sale. We are becoming more and more connected as a people. A friend of mine plays cards with a person from Greece, Russia and Ohio all at the same time. Chatting with each other as they play.

Life is changing and we are changing with it. I am looking forward to seeing the people I talk to on my cell phone (within 5 years). But there is no substitute for face-to-face time. So when you sit down with your loved ones turn off the cell phones, PDA’s, beepers, laptops, TV’s and even take that old land line phone off the hook for a while. The electronic noise can be deafening and distracting when it is time to reach out and touch someone.

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