Thursday, June 3, 2010

Technology

When I set off for Europe in 1969, I was going to be gone for a full three months.  Since I was always going to be moving, I gave my friends and family my itinerary with addresses where they could send mail for pick-up.  So it was that I arrived in Madrid three weeks into my trip to find out that my sister was engaged.  Several weeks later, in Vienna, Austria, my friend and I learned of her father's death, which had occurred two weeks earlier.  The 'instant' information age was so far into our future we were not even imagining it.

Thirty years later on a cruise ship in the Caribbean Ocean I kept in contact with my staff via email.  And the next year, armed with a shared phone card number, my staff and I communicated with voice mails between West Bloomfield and Melbourne, Australia.  The VMs were as a result of a one-day and 14 hour time difference.

Now, everything is instantaneous.  When I couldn't reach my oldest son on his cell phone, I sent an email.  Within seemingly minutes, he replied that he did not know why his cell did not go to VM, but that he was in Hong Kong on his way to Thailand and would call later.  I wished him well and said we would talk when he was back stateside.

A month later, trying to call him again, he picked up while on a train outside London, England.  And last weekend when I sent an email to another son regarding my holiday barbecue (a last minute idea), he immediately replied that he was camping in Kentucky.

As much as this amazes me, I cannot imagine what my grandparents would think.  These immigrants who sent letters, clothes and money back to the 'old country' and patiently waited for a reply could now keep in touch instantly.

We may not be the 'Jetsons', but we've come a long, long way since the 'Pony Express' delivered mail.

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