Twenty Three: Concerning generation x and y and communications

Originally Posted 21st February 2011

It is often said that communication is key, but when people say this do they really think about what communication means these days. The number of communications systems and methods has grown beyond all recognition in recent years. In the space of my own lifetime I have seen, if not the invention, then the popularisation of communications technology that as a child I saw only as things of science fiction. Now however there are people alive who do not remember when the main viable alternatives we had to face to face communication were represented in today’s photo:

Today we are inundated with choices about how best to communicate with people, most people I know have in their pocket / bag a device which allows at least 5 different communication methods. Communication as well as being more varied in its form has also increased in speed, the concept of waiting to speak to someone has in a lot of cases become a thing of the past; from instant messaging and text messages to mobile phones and mobile internet, the capacity to be in constant contact is huge. Thanks to satellites and the vast network that is the internet not even physical distance is a barrier to instant communication, instead the antipodes are as linked to us as the house next door.

The main factor that differentiates generation x from gen y is the acceptance and familiarity with technology, as has been mentioned before I am from the last years of generation x which to be means that I can remember how things used to be. I am however fully immersed in the instant messaging culture and have not spent an evening with no phone and no internet in a lot of years. I can hardly remember how we coped without google, how I ever arranged things without Facebook and text messages. I am rapidly forgetting what it was like to keep my musings to myself and not indulge in the blatant self publication that I (and a multitude of others) engage in on a regular basis.

The inevitable question is does this constant connectivity between people benefit us? Does it make a more social society or does it cause us to retreat into our own little bubbles which are filing up with text and electronic beeping? Does increased connectivity actually lead to greater disconnection? I suppose only time will tell and I am very sure that thinking about these things is not going to break me of my text/IM habit!

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