Do you prefer to talk, text message, or a different communication method?

This is an interesting topic, because of course communication has changed so much in my lifetime.

I still remember sending letters – proper letters, in handwriting, on writing paper, in envelopes with silly sticker seals on them  – to penfriends when I was a teenager in the 80s. I had a penfriend in Australia,the  granddaughter of a friend of my gran’s I think; I also wrote regularly to a couple of kids that I saw on holiday once a year, and two or three times a year to my great uncle. And when I was 17 I replied to an advert for penfriends in SKY magazine and exchanged letters with a guy who ended up being a long time boyfriend.

Then during the 90s and early 2000s the phone took over. I’d ring my mum and my friends regularly – every day in some cases. Some people I’d talk to for hours on end; in fact, a friend gave me a kitchen timer so I could talk for an hour, hang up and redial to take advantage of the free 60 minute calls I got! As we crept into the 21st century I started using email more – I briefly had a penpal in America and I’d email two or three times a week, as well as silly quick messages to friends and boyfriends. I still made lots of phone calls though.

But then everything seemed to move on and now in 2011 I very rarely use the phone. Whereas my mum and I used to ring each other daily, to check that we were both still alive as much as anything, we can easily see via Gmail or Facebook that we’re online (and obviously alive!) I’ve got out of the habit of ringing friends and will occasionally send texts or emails, but more often communicate via status replies on Facebook and Twitter. Which, of course, means that those friends not using social media miss out. On the other hand, I have found new friends and renewed friendships from many years ago via Facebook. I still use email – I have a friend in Portugal with only occasional email access so we do email infrequently – but everything seems to be done in those 140 or so characters on social media sites.

And weirdly, the more I don’t use the phone, or write letters, the more I don’t want to. In fact, I’m almost phone-phobic now – if I can do something by email rather than making a call I will. Sad, that is.

So where will communication go over the next ten years? I can’t see letter writing making a comeback … so I guess everything will remain online, short and sweet.

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