Before the wide use of internet, sms and social media like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, people communicated less efficiently. They could send messages via postcards or airmail but they could take weeks or months to reach their destinations. Long-distance calls were expensive. Sometimes people would use telegrams for emergencies or send messages through friends as couriers to make their messages reach their contacts in due time. People managed to live that way even if it was way behind what we have available to us today.
When modern technology came along, it changed people's lives. Everything became speedy and instant. The usual mails sent through the post office can now be done in a few minutes through e-mails and social media. In a few seconds, we can chat with friends and relatives via Yahoo messenger and Skype and on cell phones. The hassle of going to the telegraph office is gone. Spending a lot of money for long distance calls is no longer necessary for there are cell phones and free calls on the internet. Nowadays even three or more people can hold a conference call.
Watching TV remotely is not a problem any longer because advanced phones have access to TV programs as long as there is Wi-Fi and the signal is good. Responding to messages is really fast. Unlike postcards, airmails, telegraphs and long distance calls, the new technology is more efficient and less costly.
Despite these comforts and conveniences, the use of social media and modern gadgets has greatly affected our connection with people. One time, I invited a friend to go out with me. I was glad my friend accepted my invitation. Unfortunately, while seated on the bus, he took out his tablet and began to play a game. I was shocked. He could have set aside another time for this. As a person, I value my time with a friend, talking and sharing pleasant or unpleasant experiences but this friend of mine gave more importance to a machine. I said nothing about it and carried on with my own daydreaming until we reached where we were going.
Every time I took the BTS from Victory Monument to Asoke, I would observe a dozen people on the train. I did this six times and it confirmed my hypothesis that modern technology has tremendously affected our connections. I noted that 30 out of 72 people used gadgets, 5 people read, while the remaining 37 sat talking to companions or watching the on-board TV
Many years ago, when I was in London, I noticed that passengers on the tube train never talked to other passengers but remained in their own little world, perhaps reading or listening to music.
SMS (short message service) or text message is worth discussing in this blog too. In the late 1990s, people loved it. They were into sending messages in short forms unmindful of spelling as long as they were understood. As an English teacher, although I also did a lot of texting too, I was never at ease sending messages with wrong spelling. So if my friends texted me, I would text back and spell out the words I wanted to say.
It took a little time and it was undoubtedly slower but it made me feel good sending messages with correct spelling. That's why some of my friends would ask the spelling of common words because their brains were already used to incomplete words or missing vowels and consonants.
Even if the act of texting uses many strange words, it is still very advantageous. Take for instance an experience of a mathayom teacher: One afternoon he wanted to find Chai, a student who had missed several lessons. Near the canteen he saw Ploy, Chai's friend. Ploy said Chai was in the library and she would get him. The library was just up the stairs from where they were standing. Did Ploy go up the stairs? No, she took her cell phone and called Chai.
Another aspect of connecting via the internet is forwarding messages. When e-mail was still new, I received a lot of forwarded messages. Friends and acquaintances would forward messages like jokes, stories with lessons, and all sorts of things. Every time I received forwarded messages, I would really feel glad for they would spice up my day. Of course at times I would receive something that did not suit my taste, but just the same I appreciated the sender. In fact, when I liked the forwarded messages, I would save and send them to friends. In that case I could give their day a boost.
Forwarded e-mail messages have become less common now due to social media platforms like Facebook. My friends say that they seldom forward messages via e-mail because they could forward them in other places.
Each kind of forwarded message has different characteristics and messages are sent appropriately depending on its nature. Yes, forwarding notes, links, videos, and messages to our friends makes the world smaller and makes us all connected like a family of friends. But in forwarding messages, let's not forget authorship. Give due recognition to the author. Of course, clean and decent messages are highly commendable. They can cheer up a sad friend. They can give inspiration to a burdened soul. Messages can make anybody's day. Don't you think so?
Let's value people. They are more important than machines. Never cease to forward messages especially the inspiring ones. As one friend puts it, "They make my boring day turn into an inspiring one"