Technology and the loss of innocence

Someone should figure out how to bottle innocence. Once in a tightly sealed and hopefully decorative container, it should reside behind a glass shelf that reads in all red cap letters: IN CASE OF EMERGENCY, BREAK GLASS. Driving to my parents’ house usually brings my mind to way too many thoughts. It’s not a very long drive, but long enough and passes through enough traffic to make the mind wander.

Usually when I reach the town they live in, I’ve already relived high school. This usually means I’ve made the mistake of listening to the older pop/rock stations and heard something that reminded me of that time or this time with so and so and what’s-their-face. It becomes even a more sad affair when I decide to make a detour to one of the millions of local Sonics for a quick slush. Why? Because I usually pass my old high school. Or go down a street I had driven years ago to get back home, only it had a few less churches and strip malls then. I just start thinking…

Today I started thinking about innocence. And what, like I mentioned, would happen if I could drink such sweet nectar as our lost innocence in case of an emergency. My emergency would be to erase how technology has made communication so damn impersonal. Even though as you would figure it, technology should make things easier — more communicative. Easier, yes. More communicative, no. I’ve lost relationships via email. Lost them over the Web. Destroyed them in text messages. What happened to communication? The good old fashioned kind? I would settle for two soup cans and string if that would get me to it better. What happens when we get so advanced we forget humanity? Break out the label-makers because yes, you can label this as very idealist and sappy. But can you answer this question? Have you even thought about it?

Not only that, things get misinterpreted all the time when they aren’t said. For example a recent text I got from a guy who is trying to get back in my life (not sure if I’m really into that idea anymore) said something about “no strings attached.” Upon closer reading I realized he meant that comment on his end not mine. He meant, “Just let me take you to dinner, no strings attached.” I had to re-read this because there was a misplaced comma but it might as well be passivity in language, lack of spell check…things just get lost. The same can be said when you are angry. Once you have sent that message it’s gone and more than likely you will not get a chance to explain yourself verbally, in person or with those soup cans.

We rely so much on things that aren’t breathing. Somewhere we lost our bottle of innocence. The essence of what is pure. Our youth. We have grown so old and above ourselves. We put the gospel on the words we read on little LCD screens, monitors — the underside of your flip phone. There is no second story or forgiveness once it’s all out there. There is no discussion. Well, there is this forum of communication — blogging. We use our blogs as an open dialog stream of consciousness where everyone can come in and have their say. We use our blog as a reciprocal place to meet wits. But even this wonderful vein of technology can only mimic the real thing. In the end there is just no comparison to the spoken word. It came first. It is the skeleton of it all. The point of it all. I only hope it doesn’t get buried in pixels, bytes and coding!

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5 responses to this post.

  1. You definitely approach this in a thoughtful way and, yes, I see your point clearly. Language is full of nuance and that nuance is often lost when nonverbal subtext, inflection, gestures, etc are removed. It’s more difficult to understand and be understood. The cold, impersonal nature of electronic communication is not lost on me, either.

    On the other hand, this brave, new e-world has given me the opportunity to communicate with brilliant, entertaining and insightful people, such as yourself. If we were limited to verbal, face-to-face communication, that would not be possible.

    It’s a trade-off, I suppose. Perhaps we can look forward to the day when feasible, reasonably-priced videophone technology is available to everyone.

    Reply

  2. Thanks Soy.
    And thanks for stopping by!
    I think you are right about how this kind of arena can open us up to new people and ideas. I think we are better for having blogs. But I also think that things have gotten to where communication only lies at our fingertips…sometimes the end result isn’t so good or enlightening!

    Reply

  3. Very good post. How easily it is to be misunderstood or have your words misinterpreted on the Net. Even with smiley faces, etc., it is sometimes difficult to convey what you mean. The eye contact, body language and voice intonation and inflection are missing. And as you point out, the second chance is often not given. Blogging is sometimes considered a “hit and run” pastime. How many times have I written a followup to a post that goes something like this, “I’m sorry you misread my post. Let me try to explain what I meant.” Doesn’t always work. The receiver has often moved on to hit another site, and you are left to consider how you could have been clearer, a more effective communicator.

    Reply

  4. Point taken, Arm Jerker. I guess we can only stand back and watch how these things play out.

    Reply

  5. Actually, I think it’s quite interesting to see language written as is – without the nuances Soylent speaks of – and I tell you why. You can find out a lot about someone just by the way they respond. I’ve seen many people get defensive over an innocent sentence. It tells you a lot about how they feel about themselves. It helps me determine if I want to hang with them or not.

    Reply

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