This is the text I received from my father. For those of you wondering why daddy dearest sounds so brusque it’s simply because texting to him is a modified version of the telegram. He continues to be frugal with words as if every letter is charged.
It would appear that technology and warmth can’t be juxtaposed. I send my father a text saying I’ve landed in Hong Kong and ask him to wish me luck because I start a new job from tomorrow. His response is GOOD. SLEEP WELL. FACE CHALLENGES FROM TOMORROW.
His fixation for uppercase beats me. Maybe it’s him trying to be VERY clear. I imagine his tired eyes scanning his small screen, not so smart phone and all’s forgiven.
I sometimes marvel at his single minded-ness. It wouldn’t surprise me if he makes bullet-points about the topics to be discussed during our weekly Sunday calls (no mid-week calls unless it’s an emergency). Although there is usually a pattern .Get information on my health, awkwardly inquire about my happiness, quiz me about work and an inquisition on my savings (and the lack thereof). What quickly follows is a lecture on how I squander it away before the phone is handed to my mom for peace talks.
His clarity in thought makes me wonder just how many words, texts, calls and years I have wasted on small talk. I reason by saying it’s the price of popularity.
Yet, I look at my dad sending letters and postcards to his retired friends , receiving calendars which are probably meant as corporate gifts and I have to respect how they actually took time out to keep in touch. We,the instant-gratification loving Gen Y with our synthetic SMS’es, hashtag tweets, Insta love on instagram and Facebook likes and pokes are plain lazy. The world is getting smaller but the distance between us is increasing. I’ve been toying with a social experiment of removing my birthday from my Facebook profile. Would people remember without a reminder?
Not too long ago, I tried to teach my parents the joys of Skype. Much excitement ensued before the video call except for a tiny technicality, they forgot to put on their webcam! When they figured it out, I had a better view of the wall than them. The maiden call was going swimmingly but after the basic pleasantries were exchanged my dad wanted to hang-up. I reiterated it’s free but that didn’t change his mind. He says he doesn’t understand the Skype revenue model. Admittedly neither do I.
I realize that I’m heading in the same direction. I shy away from leaving voice messages and blithely ignore the marvels of modern-day technology like voice memos and audio notes, much to the chagrin of my friends.
In school, after spending the day together, my friend would ring me and we would chat for hours as if we hadn’t met in years
In college my friends and I would discuss every boy, every dream and any remote possibility of how our lives could change
When I reached my 20’s I was full of existential angst
I wanted to be anyone but me and live anywhere but here
Then we grew up and couldn’t ignore the gradual changes as technology seeped into our lives. Staying in-touch meant texting, g talking, what’s app’ing, BBM’ing and on very rare occasions, a phone call. The call is usually to make a plan. I can’t remember the last time I got a call when a person just wanted to ..talk.
With more number of years under our belt, are fewer words spoken?
With the customary ping of ‘let’s catch-up’ just how many promises are broken?
Technology is efficient but it’s also crippling our communication skill
My father is a man of few words with an old-fashioned way of expressing them
But I treasure his messages because not too far from now I too will feel like an ossified fossil