I was wondering the other day wether the multitude of communication means we have really improves the quantity and quality of our relashionships.
We can call on a landline or mobile phone, we can send letters by snail mail, electronic mail or fax, we can chat and exchange files using a myriad of instant messaging applications and combine text, voice and video using free computer programs. The combinations are endless: we can get our voice messages by email, using a PDA in the middle of the desert, listen to hundreds of online radio stations on Internet radio or track past collegues and friends on social networking apps.
Before we had mobile phones, we set meetings by determining a fixed date, time and location. Once we left the proximity of a landline phone, we could no longer change the meeting details. Nowadays, the deifinitions are fuzzier, we don't bother to set things in stone as we know there is always a possibility to change later. We commit less.
We send automatic electronic greeting cards to our friends and bulk Happy New Year wishes by SMS or email. The mass production concept kidnapped our personal communications. We say more, but mean less.
Finding a lost kindergarden buddy? Joining a virtual support group for your diet? Just google and find more details in seconds than you'll ever need. No doubt, all this infrastructure makes it easeir to keep in touch. Do we? Yes, but... Being able to say 'I love you' or 'I'm sorry' in a dozen different ways does not make us actually say it. We still have to invest in our relationships, work at them to make them last.