blog post from my blog http://twentysomethingsdublin.blogspot.ie/
|There is a problem. A problem, that affects the global community as a whole and that has an impact on international communication. Lives have been disrupted, gasps of shock ripple through the networks of the world.
Communication is down. May Day. M'aider. Communications are down.
The instant messaging app "Whatsapp" has been removed from a smartphone platform's store.
I happen to work a bit in the periphery of that world, and I happen to notice that something like this can take monstrous proportions (whenever it occurs, which is not as rarely as one thinks). Cries of despair echo through the wilderness of forums and complaint sites, or feedback platforms. Seemingly hundreds of people are devastated, judging by the amount of posts and tweets.
It makes me wonder how dependent we seem to have become on small things like these. Just having mentioned it in my previous post, I wanted to elaborate on this a bit more. Social Networking. I use it. I sometimes even enjoy it, but mainly it's a tool.
As a teen, I was the very first in my class to have a facebook account, at the tender age of fourteen. (That account has been retired, and if I were to look at it now, I would melt into the ground from embarrassment). It helps me communicate with old friends, and people I have not seen since we moved to different continents. And that communication is rapid, it gives me instant access to everything I want to know.
But when it breaks down, for whatever reason, we feel left alone and deprived of something. I can't quite seem to be able to put my finger onto what we're being deprived of, exactly.
According to Whatsapp, the problem will be fixed soon, and they are working on an update. But this does not seem to be calming the world down, rather it upsets us even more. If they're working on fixing it, why is it not fixed already?
What interests me the most is how communication now seems to depend on something so small, a gimmick. And it makes me miss the times (that I've never seen, being from this millennial generation) when letters or arranged phone calls were the height of communication. Then, communication seems to have been more thought out and deliberate; more constructed and less open. Were we more eloquent back then?
Reading through letters of Oscar Wilde (who I am rather fascinated with), or remembering my favorite epistolary novel of my teenage years Goethe's "Die Leiden des jungen Werther" (The Sorrows of Young Werther), it feels like we were. To establish a communication took so much thought in those days, it was such a struggle. It is so carefully crafted, so thoughtfully molded. Is that not better, does it not show more love or care for the person you're communicating with? And if you happen to be communicating with someone who opposes you; does it not show more respect if you need to sit down, with a pen and paper and construct a full, valid argument? To prove your point not by shouting, but by showing.
There was a structure to an argument, there was a purpose to every line written. Self-editing was needed, training some of the most imaginative minds.
Perhaps, however, this new shortness has it's values. In an interview a few years ago with TVs Craig Ferguson, renaissance man Stephen Fry (who appears to be a bit of a techy man as well), states that to him, the way Twitter works is a good thing, mentioning how 140 characters are enough to get a statement as well as a mood across. So, perhaps there is value in instant communication. The lack of tight templates on how a letter, an argument, or any other communication should be constructed may contribute a very great amount towards the freedom of expression. It is the freedom to express yourself, where you want, how you want and most importantly, whenever you want. There is no holding back anymore. It contributes to one of our core rights: the freedom of speech.
A freedom that is more important to many of us than most things.
Is it a noble thing, then, to scream for an instant fix when one medium of that rapid communication goes away (even if it's temporary, as it is now with Whatsapp)? Is it just people's hearts yearning for their much beloved freedom, their much beloved way of expressing oneself? Sadly, I doubt these are the motives for the uproar.
I do not doubt that communication and freedom thereof is essential, it is. But does not seem to me, that the users, who have been deprived of their tool for a few moments are emotional because the freedom to express oneself has gone away. Perhaps it is rather, that the patience Werther and Lotte need while the postal system delivers their musings is no longer as present in this generation as it was in the previous generations. Perhaps it is not that our words are taken away, perhaps it is our powerlessness; we must depend on someone else to fix it for us.
Perhaps, though, the world needn't worry too much, when communication is down.
Only if the freedom that it entails goes offline.