Communication is so often overlooked and taken for granted. It’s probably one of the most overused words in an interview setting and the most neglected in practice, by some. Is it in part, because the way in which we communicate has changed so much?
Face-to-face communication aside – I don’t even begin to imagine what it was like to wait for a messenger or postman to bring you your letter by horse; I can’t really remember a time when my family received a telegram; and I’d be racking my brain to remember the last personal letter I received. But I can remember texts containing letters only… before emoticons came about and photos and gifs came with everything.
Has the last decade and a half done a real number on us?
Remember when you created your first email address? The majority of emails I received at the time was from people I knew well, not your run-of-the-mill subscription. These days, I can’t leave my personal email inbox alone for a day without it being swamped by things I may have signed up for that ONE time, or as a result of the time I had given my email address to receive a service, which somehow became an open invitation for socially acceptable spam.
The ratio of subscription emails vs. personal emails today, is well… shocking. How did this happen so quickly? Is social media the only culprit? – That thing that allows someone to know what you’re doing without actually having to communicate with you at all. And instant messaging, the phenomenon that allows you to send little packets of data without it hurting your wallet, so much so that on a lot of mobile plans, texts (as in SMS messages) have become free of charge and in some instances obsolete.
And what does this mean for contemporary fiction? I’m not sure, but give it a few years, and we’ll have this conversation again. Characters communicate, and how they do this is very telling. Technology is aging at a remarkable speed and we will just have to find a way to adapt, somehow. This is not really a big deal for my first novel, which takes place in a specific time, but what about others? We’ll make it relevant. I didn’t major in technology for nothing. (I feel like I would have liked to include a smiley emoticon here, but I resisted, out of principle).
On a different note, this post reminded me of something really peculiar. You know that I have been living in Australia for 14 years and speaking predominantly English, apart from talking to family and friends overseas. And as we all know, technology has moved along particularly quickly during this time. What this has meant for me, is that some things technology-related that had been communicated (for the first time) in the language I used full-time as a child, I cannot converse in. I have only experienced it in English. I find it really funny that I can translate pretty much any other sentence in Afrikaans, apart from something along the lines of ‘I browsed a website and clicked on a link, before printing the page.’
Here’s hoping that I don’t ever have a need to write a technology-filled book in a language other than English.