Last weekend, my mum and I were going through the old photo albums and archive of old times that were stashed in the cupboard. My mum held onto a piece of paper that was unnaturally torn and withered in nature. However, she held onto it as if it was very valuable to her, and it brought a smile to her face. And of course it was. It was a letter written by my dad while he was away for work.
Back in 1997-98, when I was a small boy, my dad used to stay far away from us for work. He has been away working for years. Yet, he sent so many letters which would take months to reach home. Even though those letters are so many years old, they still hold so much value to my mum. That made me wonder, why doesn’t that happen to us when we send messages across? If technology was supposed to bring people together, why doesn’t it evoke the same feelings as those not-so-techy letters?
So I started to think deeply about it and decided that I would write about the things I brainstorm. Guess it’s going to be a long explainer. So brace yourself! :)
Correlation between efforts and value
Naturally, any tangible or intangible asset gains value when the reproducibility of it is difficult or expensive. For example, Gold has value because there is only a finite amount of it in this world and the reproducibility of this asset is extremely expensive. You can apply this logic to anything, and it would still fit.
Applying the same logic to the letters, it turns out that writing a letter is a time intensive process. The farther the person is, the more time it would take in the delivery of the letter. So, you would also have to compensate for that buffer time in advance. All in all, there is a significant amount of time and brain work involved in writing/posting the letters. And that buffer and efforts involved, give those letters a certain value. When you are the recipient, you know that the person who wrote it, has put a significant amount of efforts into them and that makes them valuable because they are not as easy to reproduce.
The intermediaries of communication, (in this case the letters) play a significant role in deciding how our human to human relationships are cherished and experienced. In other words, the intermediaries of communication IRL influence human relationships.
Fast-forward two decades
It’s 2022 and the technology has engulfed the entire world. Why write letters when you can type something and send it to any corner of the world in just a matter of seconds! You don’t have to put efforts into writing the letter, writing the address, posting it. All this long and effort-invoving tasks are a thing of the past now.
However, just think for a moment.
Did we actually lose that special feeling that the intermediaries of communications provide when we evolved to use better technology with time? In my opinion, we sure have.
Was it really worth it? I’m not really sure.
Is there a better way? There should be. That’s what we humans are good at. We figure out a way to solve the problem better than any other organism in this entire world. (Unless you are a bot who is reading this)
But I think now we are locked-in with this trend, and it’s going to be very hard to change or refine (if it requires change or refinement) this system since the entirety of the population is dependent on it.
I’m not criticizing the evolution of technology here. I know the evolution is perpetual, and technological evolution seems like an obvious way to move forward. However, we might have collectively chosen a path forward too quickly.
I’m by no means an expert in this field. If my take on this topic is blunt, consider me irrelevant. But I really do miss the special feeling of writing those letters. I have written letters before, and I still have the letters that I have received from my loved one’s. But I haven’t had the impulse to store the messages, just like I have done with letters. They don’t make me feel as special as letters do. That makes me suspect that we evolved too quickly with technology and these constructs of modern messaging and communication are locked in with our day-to-day life.
We sure are losing a special touch of human to human communications with the new constructs, and there should be a better way of building these blocks of communications. The one’s that actually makes you feel special the way letters do. I’m not sure if it’s possible sometime in the future, or if my take on this topic is blatant or nonsensical. But as a technophile / technologist, all I can do is hope for a better future.
Have a good day :)