Back in 1876 an ol’ boy named Bell/ Invented a contraption that we know so well….
Reba’s words get stuck in my head whenever I think of communication through history. But even in 1994 when the song came out, I don’t think Reba ever imagined where’d we be today.
You can get one in your briefcase, on a plane or in your car… — with a camera, and keyboard, music, movies, apps and more.
Just think what Alexander Graham Bell started with a simple telegraph. Samuel Morse added the code forming words with dit’s and dah’s. And soon people were talking clear across oceans in real time.
Are we better off than we were? Where would we be without our cell phones and text messaging or our internet connections?
I’ll tell you first hand, we’re back where we started, dit’s and dah’s otherwise known as Morse code.
It wasn’t that long ago when you wanted to place a call, you first had to dial the operator. If you’re too young to remember, maybe you’ve seen re-runs of The Walton’s or Mayberry? No, how about M*A*S*H? Yeah, they jiggled the receiver to get the attention of an operator who placed your call.
Then we advanced to the party line, now here’s a little ditty to dig up the dirt. In my youth there were five houses on the same line. Sure we each had our own telephone number but before we placed a call we had to make sure the line was free. I really hated the neighbors who enjoyed hour and two hour conversations. I didn’t use the phone often, but when my boyfriend was supposed to call, well it just wasn’t right. If it really was an emergency, I’d just butt into their conversation and ask them to hang up. Made for interesting neighborhood dynamics. Forget about keeping personal information personal, the temptation for some was just too great to eaves drop.
Now we have hands free, Borg apparatus sticking out of heads. We can take pictures and immediately post them to our social media outlets. We can talk while we walk, we can text while we drive. Stop already! I know none of you text while driving, but obviously it happens otherwise why would we need to make laws that are common sense? Why did people listen in to private conversations on party lines?
Now we have GPS in our phones so parents can monitor children, so law enforcement and emergency personnel can locate us. What’s next?
For the crew of Fawkes we’ve had to take a step back in time. As we leave the good ol’ USA, our cell phones and Wi-Fi connections are turned off. We’ve un-plugged and shut down all normal communication with the outside world. Or have we?
Not exactly, we have modern day telegraph and believe it or not the Captain still uses dit’s and dah’s to communicate through the airwaves. We use voice single side band transmissions to get weather updates daily. When we’re out at sea, we can email through the ham bands basic information home and receive important weather files far from land. Our VHF radio hails vessels close at hand and we can carry on conversation or make restaurant reservation.
Our recent history has reinvented the need for ham radio communication, or a flip back to telegraph skills. Remember 911? How could you forget? It was the skills of those historical die hard individuals keeping alive radio communication that acted as a conduit between families and emergency personnel. Same thing for Katrina, the tsunamis and other recent disasters.
Sometimes we have to remember our beginnings because simple is still necessary.
Unplugging has allowed us a richer existence with our neighbor. Remember when we just walked to the hedge to say hi? Now, you find people in the same room texting the person standing next to them. We connect so much better face to face and take advantage of more social opportunities in person.
As a society, are we losing good common communication skills? How about interpersonal relations? I for one am glad we’re unplugged for a time.