The development of technology has immensely changed the way people communicate. The means of receiving information have also changed. An interview with an octogenarian former civil servant has given deep insights into this issue.
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First, technology has made modern communication faster than it was during the old times. For instance, the interviewee had previously used the post office to send letters to his friends and family. It could take even a week for those letters to reach the recipient. If the recipient replied to them, it would take another week to receive the response. The interviewee described a case when he fell sick and had to write a letter to his doctor. It took the doctor two weeks to arrive. Thus, such slow pace of communication could be life threatening. In contrast to modern times, communication is significantly faster. Technology has introduced electronic mails as well as instant messaging services that make sending or receiving messages much faster. For instance, one has just to send a text message, and the doctor can arrive in a few minutes.
Besides, the old methods of communication were not reliable. The interviewee pointed out several cases, where his letters did not reach the target. This could have arisen from the inefficient methods of storing the mails or laxity on the part of the porter. Thus, one was never sure if the message was received. On the contrary, modern technology has done away with this weakness. For example, when you send an email, one will get an instant message informing him that the delivery was successful. In case the message failed to reach the target, one might opt for other modern methods like sending texts using the mobile phone. In addition, online chat services like Skype have made sending and receiving messages instantaneous. Therefore, modern technology has increased efficiency in communication.
Modern means of communication are more long lasting than the old ones. The interviewee pointed out a case when he lost all his letters in a fire. The letters were significantly dear for they contained the addresses of all his friends and acquaintances. As a result, he could no longer communicate with them. Nowadays, technology allows for storing communication logs without worrying to lose them. An electronic address will last forever, unless you manually delete it. Besides, there are some ways of retrieving lost or deleted electronic mails. The same case applies to text messages sent using mobile phones. Both the sender and receiver keep copies. Even when one of them accidentally deletes them, the service providers might still retrieve the messages. As a result, technology has made communication logs last for long.
However, the most surprising is the way the interviewee blames the media and technology for eroding societal values; especially he blames the Internet, where pornography is easily accessible to anyone. The interviewee argued that such practices have increased moral decay in the society as they encourage prostitution, pedophilia and rape. In the old days, there were strict regulations for newspapers and magazines that published pornographic materials. Nowadays, the regulations regarding pornography are very lax. Therefore, it can be concluded that as long as we might glorify the efficiency of the new generation media, we should also consider the threats to morality.
There are both similarities and differences regarding the perception and relationships affected by media and technology. The interviewee agrees that modern technology and media have changed the world. Nowadays, the world is more comfortable to live in than it was in the past. Technology has eased and hastened service delivery, a fact that has contributed to improved life and timely disaster mitigation. For instance, video chatting enables families to keep in touch despite separation by long distances. The interviewee acknowledges that he uses the video chatting service to communicate with his daughter who lives in Africa. However, the interviewee stressed that modern modes of communication lack the personal touch present in the old mediums of communication. He said that writing a letter was an emotional activity that indicated the writer’s true feelings. On the contrary, instant text messaging might not show the true feelings of the sender. The interviewee justified the claim by pointing a large number of people who lie when sending text messages or talking in mobile phones.
Understanding of the technological differences has made me appreciate the expectations of different generations concerning communication. This will inform the choice of medium of communication when targeting people from different generations. For instance, the young generation might be content with electronic mails, but the old generation might prefer printed versions of the mails. Besides, the old generation might prefer printed versions of newspapers and magazines, rather than online versions. To communicate effectively, we need to take into consideration the generational gap that exists due to technological advances.
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