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Communication as a good thing.
I know that in the past I have complained about certain modern forms of communication. Particularly the mobile phone. In the last couple of days it has hit just how good some forms of communication are, and how much closer the world is as a result.
In the last couple of days I have: spoken by phone with Rebecca in Croatia and Kathy in the US, spoken to Aunt Hilda in Israel by Skype, messaged Sej in Switzerland, spent some time tech-supporting Lucy in Nowra by Skype, emailed Todd in Bathurst, Aaron in London, Joeska in Brisbane and Rhodri in Swansea. Family, friends, etc. All as accessible as they choose, I choose and the time difference allows. No obligations; but the freedom to communicate.
It was kind of amazing to think that 500 years ago, the communication would have been impossible; 50 years ago expensive; 5 years ago less available. I remember when Dad would call from overseas when I was little and he would call home. The line always had echoes and it was difficult to hear. Now I can speak to someone half the world away with a perfectly clear line, no delays and for the cost of the internet connection. Sometimes it is easy to forget how far we've come. Even the telephone for a local call is a huge advance over years past.
Other events of note: I bought myself an ipod. The plan is that I put my wedding video on it and use it to put me to sleep on planes. I also had dinner at Heather and Rev's place and got the tour. It's not huge by Australian standards, but I will probably be in a similar sized place in Swansea.
Comment from Gillian
So perhaps you'll continue along that line of thought and accept that there are times when a mobile phone might be a GOOD thing?
Of course. And there are times when someone being deprived of their liberty is a GOOD thing. I wouldn't wish it on my family or friends though. You'll notice that the difference between each of the communication methods I laud and mobile phones is in the freedom and expectation:
You have a mobile phone. I expect you to answer it.
Here is an email. Look at it when it is convenient.
We all know stories of people being woken up because they have forgotten to turn their phones off when they go to bed. Whereas the other methods of communication increase your personal freedom, a mobile phone decreases it. It places obligations on you. If you want to contact someone and they are unavailable on their mobile, you feel a sense of outrage - that they have a phone and you are being snubbed.
Is that healthy overall for society?
Comment from Gillian
Depriving someone of liberty is never a good thing -for them. Might be for society. That's another issue that could use some good discussion. But to get back to mobile phones. The expectation that you will be instantly available to answer a phone regardless of what else might be going on is already endemic to society. How many times have you stood at a shop counter while the person behind said counter answers the phone, even if you were there first? Or been annoyed because someone hasn't got an answering machine? The expectation that you will have instant and constant access to to others is only a little greater if you know that person has a mobile phone. And a mobile phone can be very useful. Calling for help when your car has been mashed by a truck, for instance; or stranded out in the dark in an unknown part of town with a flat battery. Admittedly. people do tend to get silly with them, espceially people who get bored 'just' drving and feel an urgent need to call you!
Depriving someone of liberty is never a good thing -for them.
What about if they have a temporary problem and need to be deprived of their liberty to prevent them doing themselves harm? What if someone is drunk - depriving them of their liberty to get behind the wheel of a car is a good thing - for them.
Back to mobile phones - you support my argument quite nicely. The difference between a fixed and a mobile phone is that people accept that you will not always be at home/at your phone. There is no argument that mobile phones have their uses. But their main use isn't emergency purposes. They are used as a near-compulsory communication tool. I've been asked more than once, "how do you survive without a mobile phone?" and the answer is simple. "The same way humanity has done for thousands of years."
My favourite procrastinations
The Head Heeb - Jonathan provides a balanced view on various Israeli and (former) colonial states in less developed regions of the world.
The Bladder - a sports satire site. Well worth a look.