February 28, 2006

Metamorphosis of Communication

Hallo... technology upgrades faster than the seasons change, and it is tough to keep up with the plethora of gadgets. The cell phone is no exception.

Instead of focusing on cell phone technology, which I will save for another day, let's look at one aspect of the metamorphosis of human communication which is a direct result of cell phone usage.

Do you recall before the cell phone took over our lives, we used to call people land line to land line and say...

"Hello! How are you?"
"What are you cooking for dinner?"
"Is that noise from the kids watching TV?"
"How was your day at work today?"
"I have to take the cake out of the oven, can I call you right back?"

And now, we call cell phone to cell phone and say...

"Hello! Where are you?"
"Can you talk now?"
"What is all that background noise?"
"How many signals have you got?"
"I am standing on the corner of Grand & Summit, can't you see me?"

One could go on to list many different common questions we did and do tend to ask on the phone. However, let's zoom in on the most common FIRST question...

Land Line = "How are you?"
Cell Phone = "Where are you?"

Here nests the most dramatic change in our human phone communication – we flew from HOW to WHERE!

I am not a linguist nor sociologist, and don’t know of any studies out there that have actually researched this switch. I am merely a ‘social observer’ (a phrase I stole from my mother) and it seems to me, that now… the location of a person takes precedence over the state of a person.

An exaggeration? Maybe. However...

Factoid 1 - with the land line we know, that the person we call is stationary within the circumference of the phone cord at his/her home or office, because it is a fixed phone.

Factoid 2 - with the cell phone, the person we call is most likely mobile, so we automatically make an assumption that he/she is okey-dokey, and thus, the question – ‘how are you?’ sounds redundant. Double-quick, we want to get to 'where are you?' so, we can set up the next mode of expression. Makes sense?

I am off to check for research to support my observations. If you find something interesting or have feedback, drop me an email.