Communication: What Happened?

When families had one phone, there was one central place for communication. Today, everybody has their own phone, which perversely makes it much harder to keep family communication centralized.  If there’s an emergency, who do you call to get essential information?

Let’s step into the time machine to not so long ago to the 80’s.  We were still using land lines in our homes.  That’s a shocker to some who are born a little later.  Until approximately the late 80’s when pagers come into vogue all household messages came into the family phone or answering machine.  Answering machines become widely available by the mid-eighties.

Stop there with your thinking and consider that ALL messages came in to a central point. One family member listened to the days’ messages.  Mom has a Dr. appointment, Susie has soccer practice, bobby meanwhile has a little league meeting, and Dad has an important call from work.  Everything came into one number within the home.

As this was our new normal, a new product called a pager entered the marketplace at about the same time.  Now whoever had one could be notified right away that work was calling.  The challenge with being paged was to find a pay phone to answer, yes a pay phone!  You would use a dime or quarter to make the call (if there was a dial tone) to whomever paged you.

As companies were promoting pagers another happening in the market was occurring… the cell phone.  To expensive for most of us back then, until chips got cheaper, better, and faster.  Meanwhile most people were still using the answering machine which still kept a centralized call center for the family.  That is until pagers went away and were replaced by the cell phone.  Now it was affordable to get a phone for each member of the family.  Two, three, four or more it was a family plan, yeah!  Your work did this why not you?

And so it goes. We or at least most of us have cell phones so we can communicate with each other.  We actually called other people on their cells.  Oh, how exciting, right now, instant contact, that’s progress.   Except now what happened to that close tight community of family that knew about each others activities?  What happened to discussion about the messages, about health, about school, about work, about who are our friends, about whatever?  It has really gone away in my observation due to the individuality of no central communication point for the family unit.

Now, we know our schedule and not necessarily anyone else in the family.  We know who we talk to, not most of the family. We can keep it all to ourselves.  Until Susie is at dance practice and Dad is across town and Mom gets a flat.  Now what’s little Susie to do?  Well, she’ll panic because Mom isn’t there.  Calls go everywhere to find out what happened, do you know?  Yeah, drama happens!

So what if something happens to you unexpectedly away from home? Who knows where you are?  Unfortunately,  it’s to late by then.   However having a cell phone gives you the ability to take care of instances quickly.  You can let other family members know you’re having a challenge, you’re ok, you’re only going to be x minutes late.  That’s good, worries gone.  Now about that central communication point, it needs work.  I don’t have an answer at this juncture, nor do I want to speculate anymore than I have already.

I will say this: Please be sure to have the I.C.E. (in case of emergency) information within your cell phone completed.  It can help emergency responders identify you when you are unable to speak for yourself.  In writing this, I realized I had not done as suggested.  I do know why as I tried to find the I.C.E. on my phone, well I couldn’t find it.  So I will be stopping by my cell carrier to do so on the way home tonight.