21 April 2008

Personal and private

I can think of only one reason for this recent surge of personal interaction/communication between youths – both online and on mobilephones. The reason is the personal and private nature of the interaction/communication that today’s technology allows.

When my generation was growing up during the seventies and eighties, the address for any communication – letters, postcards, telegrams (remember those?) – was the home address. It was the only address we had – and it was shared with the whole family. When the postman delivered the mail, everyone in the family came to know what arrived, and for whom.

With telephones, it was the same story. There was only one telephone at home, and when calls came in, whoever was nearest to the phone picked it up and then passed it on to whoever the recipient of the call was. There was no privacy. The home address and telephone number were ‘public’ as far as the family was concerned.

In fact, our parents warned us about giving away the home address and/or telephone number to strangers. So, we were both cautious and reticent in offering it to others. When it came to socialising with friends, particularly with friends of the opposite sex, we preferred to meet them face-to-face, and would find opportunities to do so. For, that was the only way we could have personal and private interactions.

Today, emails and mobilephones have changed all that. We have our own personal and private email addresses and mobilephones through which we interact/communicate with our friends… in a very personal and private manner. And, we certainly don’t need our parents’ permission to share these addresses and numbers with others. Wherever we go, our email addresses and mobilephones travel with us.

If our email addresses and mobilephone numbers were ‘public’ in the sense that our home address and telephone number were ‘public’ thirty or forty years ago, how would we behave today? Would we interact/communicate/socialise as frequently, as heavily or as randomly as the youths do today using the new technology? I think not.


Madhuri said...

Your post points to an interesting thing - we hide from our families the exact same shades of us that we are eager to share with the rest of the world. Generation gap? Perhaps. But more likely it is an indication of the freedom that this emotional and physical distance offers.

Saibal Barman said...

One of your recent post has had great influence on writing a post (just uploaded before I reach your blog now ).
The post is as brilliant as the comments of a reader so reflected...
The communication has lost its home, its soul, its pure emotional bondage...
Its freedom is sensed, but not felt..
Maybe, the liberty it aspires for has has more meaning than an old heart like me can perceive of..
Thanks for sharing such a fantastic thought !

runawaysun said...

@ Madhuri

Yes, we hide from our families what we eagerly share with our ‘friends’. You could attribute it to the generation gap. Or to a sense of freedom that today’s youths enjoy, thanks to the technology which provides them the tools for expression of such freedom. The personal and private nature of the interaction/communication provides them encouragement to explore beyond what’s (normally or morally) allowed by family or society. There could be a danger in that as well, but I see it as a ‘cultural intelligence’ that today’s youths possess.

runawaysun said...

@ Saibal

Thank you. That is quite an emotional response. I had no idea that my writing meant so much to you. It feels good to learn that my blogs touch my readers so deeply.