The screen between us.

Given to reflection today, I think back on the days of my youth when personal wireless communication devices were a chimerical badge on a Star Trek uniform. And to show you pictures, I found this wonderful to-get-lost-in history of cell phone technology development: 1938 to 2010.

The pictures are a story! Batteries the size of backpacks, Maxwell Smart shoe-size phones, a communication range of a few miles, flip phones; a walk down memory lane with Blackberries, Palm Pilots, and Smartphones, oh no! Just look at all the memory contained in our pockets and our connectivity. We can reach out to our screens and touch almost anyone and everyone anywhere.

Mesmerized as we are by all this sci-fi techno-magic development, that is not the point to consider.

Today, if we see a stranger in anything which looks like distress, we assume they have at their disposal a cell phone and a connection to a lifeline. They can phone a friend. They do not need us. And nine-one-one (‘911’) is always a last resort. We need not pay much attention or take action. Strangers we remain.

We can all carry on about our day connected, just not connected here, to each other in any way other than for observation.

Contrast this to the telecommunication of my youth. One needed pocket change, a dime or a quarter, to use a pay phone in a booth or on a wall. Or you needed access to someone who had a phone plugged into a wall to call and talk to your lifeline — a friend, a parent, a relative.

And texting? Pssht. Texting was not even on my imagination’s radar as anything I’d ever want or need.

And so I wonder at what is subtracted from our public discourse by the assumption that everyone is teleconnected¹ to their lifeline? How much chillier is a society to real and present danger as a result of the desirability and the ability to disconnect from each other, from strangers, from events in real-time? I mean, let’s face it, it is comfortable for me to be out and about and not have to look out for … you.

And then on the flip side of the teledisconnection¹ coin,  I marvel and wonder at the happenings we chose to record with all our pocket memory! Funny videos, tragedies puny and large, misbehaviors, law-enforcement, law-breakers, forbidden sneakily recorded events  … oh, it’s a long list.

And we humans love to watch. We love to watch each other. Just not so much without the benefit of a screen …

Between you and me.


¹ Word mash-up: teleconnected (verb)

telecommunications (tele): “communication over a distance by cable, telegraph, telephone, or broadcasting.”

connected (connected): “bring together or into contact so that a real or notional link is established.”

And so I can’t believe that no one has put these two words together, and prove me wrong, but, teleconnected: connected by telecommunication devices.  

Example: The Prescedense is teleconnected to Twitter through a personal hand-held device.

² Word mash-up: teledisconnection (verb)

telecommunications (tele): “communication over a distance by cable, telegraph, telephone, or broadcasting.”

disconnection (disconnection): “the act of detaching one thing from another.”

Teledisconnection: detached from telecommunications.

Example: Teledisconnection of the Prescedense from his Twitter account could restore some normalcy to the communications expected from the office of POTUS.

 

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