As a history major – I tend to look at everything and find trends, think about what historians will write about our time, and all kinds of fun things that drive Amy crazy. The other day while I was thinking about playing Super Mario 3 on my Wii, I thought about the definition of being social (“interactions between people”) and then thought that my son Evan’s generation will most likely view our generation as very unsocial. We wrote letters that took days to deliver, interacted with people very limitedly, played games by ourselves, and worked independently.
Our definition of communication has completely changed. When I thought about it, I went to college before cell phones were really popular. If you wanted to get in touch with someone it was by phone, email, or by the chance of meeting someone. No one had digital cameras so most of our college pictures are tucked away in a shoebox somewhere in one of our friend’s closets. We had the beginning of networked games, but our interaction there was limited to typing in “hi” or “Don’t go in the dungeon without me Ken!”.
Now – we have instant access to other people’s statuses and whereabouts by the second. SMS, email, Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, cell phones, etc – people share what they are doing that moment, while other people can comment, look at your whereabouts, get notified the second any change has been made (RSS, etc), read about what you are doing/what you have done all in a community setting. People take photos and videos now and within seconds share the photos and video with family and friends…and even “strangers”. If you want to get ahold of someone – you can do so electronically and it is a good chance I will be talking to whomever I want within a matter of moments, not minutes, hours, days, weeks, or months.
The definition of face to face communication has also changed. The majority of us have high speed connections which allow us to chat via video so we can see our friends and family at any time, any place within seconds. No more waiting to see cousin x until our yearly trip to Germany. Same goes with business. Why have your office fly to somewhere to sit in a room with others while you could save money and time by doing business via video? Of course it is still nice to meet in person on occasion, but it is not always needed or the best solution.
Even gaming – all of my favorite games are highly interactive with my friends online. I cannot even tell you how many times I had to explain that I was a girl and not a 10 year old kid playing So Com II because we planned our attacks and defense using voice. I have friends online that I know I can play games with at almost any time…from scrabble to planning a sniper attack on the enemy.
On trips, I take photos with my iPhone and send them instantly to family members so they can see their grandson in his latest cute pose. Sharing no longer waits.
I look forward to talking to Evan about how he perceives me and my generation compared to what he knows and understands about the world. I am sure he will one day comment on how crazy it was to not have instant or almost instant access to everyone and everything.