Flags. Smoke signals. The Pony Express. Carrier pigeons. The U.S.
Postal Service. Telephones. Western Union. Shortwave radios.
Undersea cables. FedEx. Faxes. FTD florists.
beings have always attempted to communicate with each other over the
miles. Lately, they've added e-mail, texting and Twitter. The Age of
Aquarius is the Age of Communication.
... there I was, at noon on Mother's Day, lounging in my lawn chair
in the lovely May sunshine, wondering why I hadn't heard from my
only son. Since the cardless Saturday mail delivery, I'd been
indulging in a number of theories, including that he'd been abducted
by aliens or kidnapped by a Mexican drug cartel; a California fire
had jumped the Sierra Nevada and the family was fleeing via lonely
Route 50, heading for Utah; the entire family was in the hospital
with swine flu; or Lance had adopted an older couple with liberal
politics to replace his conservative dad and libertarian me — and
that new mom had received the card I thought I should be getting.
checked the "family" inbox of my e-mail account. Yes, I checked the
red button on my answering machine each time I'd go into the house.
I am planning to call Nevada soon to check out everyone's health,
having settled on the adopted-new-mother theory; when, finally,
there's a flashing light on the answering machine. My son's voice
wishes me a happy Mother's Day, then asks if I got an earlier
the call and talk to the grandchildren, who are serving their mom
her tea and juice in bed. Son is surprised that I have disinherited
you check your office voice mail? Didn't you get the e-card from the
Sierra Club?" he asks.
OK, so I
have two communication devices for missed phone calls — the
answering machine, and something connected with my Comcast system
that picks up if I ignore call-waiting, which I usually do. Then I
often don't notice the notification signal in my dial tone and so
have found messages weeks old.
enough, I found Lance's Thursday message telling me I have a gift
certificate waiting for me at the Marblehead Garden Center.
couldn't find the e-card from the Sierra Club, which wouldn't have
gone into my family inbox. I figure I probably deleted it with all
the other unsolicited e-mail in my "general" inbox.
occurred to me that my son would use e-cards; he avoids technology
in his personal life, uses it only for business. When I send him
e-mail, the subject line says: "From your mother: Read it!"
should have remembered his dislike of the Hallmark business plan.
When he does send me a card, it's usually handmade, like when he was
8, the same age his twins are now.
see the "Arlo and Janis" comic strip, in which their only son texts
Janis a Mother's Day message, which she e-mails to her laptop,
prints, then places in a scrapbook? I plan to send it, via snail
mail, to Lance, along with the handwritten thank-you note for the
wonderful basket of purple and pink Supertunias I bought with part
of my gift certificate.
So I had
a great day, small thanks to the Super Age of Communication.
just me, or has something really gone wrong with the whole
phone rings, I can't see caller ID without my glasses, so I answer
a moment of silence, the usual clue that a solicitor is on the line,
waiting for me to say "Hello, hello!?" At which point I quickly hang
e-mail program has cut down on spam from strangers, but I still get
urgent messages from friends who should know enough to check the
information for accuracy before forwarding it to their entire
address book, including talk-show hosts who must get thousands of
these things. And many haven't learned to mark all the addresses as
"blind cc:" so that each recipient doesn't get everyone else's
address. Even if they have sense enough not to "reply to all," the
addresses can be harvested by spammers who troll for these things.
any message — no matter how inspirational — implies that if I don't
forward it to 10 friends I'm morally deficient, I don't forward it
to anyone. I also don't assume that the celebrity to which it is
attributed actually said it. Instead, I go to Snopes.com, type his
or her name into the search line, and check.
appreciate some of my unsolicited e-mail, and even forward it. My
general rule is, send jokes only if they made me laugh out loud and
inspirational things only if they made me teary or very happy (e.g.,
Susan Boyle singing; cockatoo dancing; the wild lion remembering his
human friends; puppies and kittens being cute).
all means, ban texting and cell-phone conversations while driving
trolleys, or driving anything. I carry my cell phone only for
emergencies, don't know how to text and so far refuse to Twitter.
But I am resolving to talk to myself more.
assures me that he would never forget Mother's Day. So next year,
son, please, just borrow the twins' crayons and make me a card.