Stick figure self portrait - marcopolis flicr creatice commons

A lot has changed between 1960 and 1990.  Satellite TV and other communication became common. Nearly all vacuum tube electronics were replaced by solid state transistors and integrated circuits.  The technology that would lead cell phones and the internet would become more and more available.

Personal communications would become the norm.

Before all this the only way of communicating to one another was via the land line phone and written letters. Getting ones message or concern across to multiple people required either something in the newspaper – an add of some sort or announcement in the classified section,  some sort of an announcement on the radio or TV – usually on their community bulletin board – to let people know there would be a meeting of gathering of some kind.   Or post it up someplace in town.  Things like that.

Nearly all discussions took place by people in person. No chat sections on the internet or blogs or anything like that.  People would get together – one, two or more and set down and hash things out.  Meetings would be called for various reasons – political or social concerns.

This is how nearly all – if not all movements came about. From the earliest union efforts through the civil rights movement to the anti-war movements. Personal, physical communication.  There is something about getting together as a group someplace, even if it’s in a park or someones living-room.  The interaction we get from actually seeing and hearing other peoples concerns and ideas that give rise to movements.  The energy that they create. The imagination and creativity involved. The spontaneity.  The emotional expressions that we give and experience.  From the first vestiges of revolutionary thinking in France and Russia and even here.  In church gatherings and town hall meetings or just sitting outside a cafe or inside a pub.

This is what’s missing today. Sure we have a lot of angry and disenchanted and discouraged and frustrated people.  And communication like never before. But we also have something else that I see as the biggest hindrance to all of this. To much stuff. To many distractions and diversions.   It’s far to easy to switch tabs or windows on a browser, to ignore that which makes us uncomfortable.

And we do nearly all of this in private – by our selves with few, if any, around.    On chat or some blog comment section or on our cell we miss a vital part of communication, that of physical interaction.  Of seeing the fear or anger or sadness or rage in peoples faces. Of hearing it in the voices. Of giving physical comfort or affirmation.    Of standing up in a crowd of people and speaking ones mind.

It’s all well and good to sit at a computer and type out what you are thinking but it hardly replaces what one is feeling.  And you do not get hugs or pats on the back in return.  And it’s much more difficult to ignore someone who is sitting next to you.

And that is what is missing today.