The world seems so different now, from the days when one would have to send air letter forms to friends and relatives abroad to stay in touch with them. Not everyone has access to mobile phone technology or the internet and some folks are not willing to make use of the access they have, but with instant messaging, folks around the world don’t have to feel as disconnected as we used to when I was a child.
There is no substitute for being in the same room as the person you are communicating with, but there are aspects of the more recent developments that may not have been fully appreciated yet. Are the long journeys we sometimes make as worthwhile as they used to be? Is it possible that we could start thinking in new ways about carbon footprints and the impact we make on the environment as a result?
A friend told me recently (through instant messaging, of course!) about a long lost relative of his who is currently spending time in the village of his forbears. A sailor who has been so preoccupied with his career that he missed several rites of passage that affected the whole family, this relative is now seen to be enjoying the quiet life of the village. My friend marvels at the fact that he still speaks their mother tongue after being away for so long.
If that sailor had made effective use of the modes of communication that we have today, would it have been such a revelation that he is still in touch with his heritage?
It’s fair enough that we can only adapt to use the things available to use if we have the wherewithal and interest in keeping up with things, but the tools we have today could be tremendously helpful in building bridges and facilitating levels of understanding. Many of us are only a Whatsapp message away from each other now.