“What’s a telegram?” my grandson asked recently when I mentioned the word. While I explained that it used to be an efficient way of communicating important information, it dawned on me that while now defunct, its life was decades-long in contrast to the speed at which the newest and the latest in communication is forever being replaced by the newest and the latest. But do the methods of communication that have evolved since the telegram of (what seems) only a few years ago always good for us?
I worry that in our rush to be in constant communication with the rest of the world we may be in danger of having too much information. Are we able to distinguish the truth among all the information instantly reaching us?
Those of us who still read newspapers know that they exist by their reputation and that news stories have been checked and rechecked for accuracy before being thrown at the world. And those of us who read newspapers online are assured that this high standard also applies there as well. But what about all the other information, comments, ideas on countless websites and blogs? Can we recognize the real grain among all the half-truth circulating in cyber space?
Another danger looms in instant communication. The constant bombardment of images may make us immune to feelings. Somewhat like the horrific images of the Vietnam War, the first “televised” war which made the news daily, today’s images of the unspeakable horrors of terrorism are instantly seen by millions all over the world on all sorts of devices. And we get used to them.
After a while, all shock value is lost. Unless it’s personal, of course. In the olden days, if someone was injured or killed, the family received a telegram and were spared the visuals. Today, chances are family members will see a video of the actual event someone has posted on line before anyone has time to officially inform them of their loss. The telegram was kinder.