A Kinder, Gentler Time? Communication.
This post is only tangentially related to caregiving, but I think worth considering. This week my dad celebrates his 93rd birthday. In going through various boxes of mementos for displays and gifts, I noticed something. I think my parents lived in kinder, gentler times. I know they lived through the depression and World War II. Those events bruised and bloodied their world but their world was not defined by it. During the War, people waited months, sometimes even years to hear from a loved one.
The letters in their keepsake boxes are all handwritten in ink–fountain pen, not ballpoint pen. You see the flow of ink in the formed letters, the rounded shapes of cursive writing. It’s lovely. To send a handwritten letter requires thought and effort. You get paper. Will you use fine paper or ordinary paper? You fill your pen. Which ink do you choose? You write your letter, thinking about each word because you can’t erase, at best you can mark through the letters. You wait for the ink to dry. The envelope is handwritten along with the return address. You physically take the letter and post it. You pay for a stamp to send it.
In learning to write a blog, I’ve explored various social media. I’ve had a Twitter account for a few years but never read it, and I have never “tweeted.” Lately, I’ve followed Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. Today I experienced a kind of culture shock going from reading handwritten letters from the 1940’s then opening my Twitter account. Tweets go from thought to type for all the world to see in less than a minute–words without reflection. Sometimes “tweeters” say ill-advised things, exposing a lack of knowledge and/or understanding. If they say something particularly stupid, they’re hounded into closing their Twitter account. It is a merciless venue. The contrast between the tone of a handwritten letter from seventy years ago and the tone on Twitter is beyond a jolt. It’s like hearing Bing Crosby crooning on the radio and all of a sudden the room spins and you’re watching Lady Gaga’s “Do What U Want.” To be honest, I have never watched that particular video. Reading about it was as close as I wanted to get.
I text regularly but future generations will never read my texts. Why would they want to if they could? I enjoyed Facebook in the past. I like seeing photos of people’s children, their weddings, vacations, watching funny pet videos and jokes and hearing about their achievements and concerns. Lately, it’s morphed into a platform for people to voice their political, religious or cultural views, not with the aim of discourse or even persuasion, but with an “I’m right, you’re wrong, and if you don’t agreed with me you’re stupid” spirit. I have friends who’ve said, if you don’t agree with me, you are “unfriended”. Is anyone ever won over to a point of view or especially a spiritual faith by an angry rant or arrogance? I have no data, but I think the answer’s no. It repels, not attracts.
I’m not generally one to long for the “good old days”. I realize everything was not good in the past and everything is not bad in the present. There are amazing things happening in 2017. I’m just not sure where, along the way, we sacrificed civility—I miss it.
I wish you a good caregiving day and wish I could sign my name in cursive but I can’t even figure out how to change the font in WordPress.