Last night, I phoned a friend. Not to say, “I’m at the bar, but I can’t see you!” or, “Where are you? We’re late!” Not to have a long-distance chat because we live in different cities and haven’t seen each other for months. I phoned my friend, who lives in the same city as me, just to have a chat.
No, we haven’t time-travelled back to 1998: the pre-mobile, pre-text, pre-facebook golden age. This is twenty-first century, western Europe. It started out twenty-first century enough, with my friend sending me Whatsapp messages asking what I’d been up to as we hadn’t seen each other since the weekend. But then I thought, why are we having this conversation on a screen when we could be speaking? So I suggested a Whatsapp call and my phone vibrated within seconds.
We chatted and laughed and moaned about the incessant bangers and firecrackers we’ve all been enduring for the past two weeks of the Fallas festival here in Valencia. It was only a 15 minute chinwag, but it felt rather intimate, connecting with another human being by using our voices rather than typing. To my delight, for those 15 minutes, I felt 17 again. Phoning a friend in the evening, just because. To talk, to laugh, to connect.
It seems strange that the telephone conversation has almost all but been discarded in the name of progress and technology. If you think about it, in a way we have actually stepped back in time, writing ‘notes’ to each other to convey our thoughts, feelings and plans. I am certainly not the first to say this, but by being switched on and connected 24/7 online, we are more isolated than ever, lacking a genuine connection with real life people. We have abandoned what at one time must have seemed impossible, yet magical; hearing the voice of somebody in a different location to yourself. Without abandoning technology, it is time we dabbled in that magic once more, and truly connected with other people. And our 17 year old selves 🙂