Remember the old children's game "Telephone" where one child whispers a message to the next child, who whispers it to the next and so on? The end result was always hilariously transmogrified from the original message.
Tom doesn't have a land line. If I want to reach him, I can try his cell. But it usually goes right to voicemail. I can try emailing him at one of his four hundred email addresses. Or I can text him. He responds promptly to texts. Except when he doesn't.
The revelations that the U.S. government has been collecting phone and Internet data has reopened a debate about the balance between privacy and security, at a time when America is becoming an increasing target of terrorists.
When I think back to the landlines and card catalogues of the 1950s, I'm amazed that people managed to work and think so efficiently under those constraints. What, then, will our grandchildren think of our touch screens and wireless networks - and with what senses will they look back?
At a certain age, does everyone feel like they have had every conversation they are ever going to have -- that every conversation (other than those with intimates) is pre-packaged, as if chosen from a sampler menu on an airplane playlist?
For the last 20 years, the nation's major telecom companies have been playing the public and regulatory officials for fools. Now they're claiming they shouldn't be obliged to provide affordable landline service to everyone anymore, as they take the money and run to wireless.
So I say to the worst Internet service provider in the world, to whom I have given dozens of hours of my time over the years dealing with their incompetent customer service and tech support professionals and their highly unstable platform, goodbye and good riddance.
I'm not talking about smartphones -- they're really not phones, but pocket-sized personal computers with an optional voice function -- but I do wonder whether the idea of using any type of device to actually talk is likely to fade away or at least diminish?
How has this happened to me? How has this happened to so many of us? It seems that all the hyperconnectedness in today's society is siphoning away our energy for real-life interaction. Some people might call my lifestyle antisocial; I'd prefer to say I'm living the "new normal."
Not too long ago, there were only two methods by which a boy could procure a date with a girl: in person or via the telephone. With the advent of technology, there are myriad ways to show your interest.