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Family Connections

It has often be said that I can talk for England and  maybe it’s true!  Whilst not sure about whether the pedals will be turning with the  cycling sisterhood today,  I have been talking to the Czech branch of my family via Skype and at the end of  the call we were amazed to discover we had been nattering for nearly  2 hours!

I can almost hear the cries of  ‘So What?’  from those of you who have grown up in a world where communication written, virtual or audible via a screen  has been the norm, but  there is still something rather wonderful about the fact that I can sit in the lounge of my small terrace in Lancashire and hold a conversation with nearest and dearest in an extremely small village in the wilds of the Czech Republic.  We are not talking Prague or Brno here, but a village with a population  of less  than 1000 , where the snow generally lasts almost Dr Zhivago style from November to April.   Social media until recently was ( and still is for many residents) the loud-speaker system in the village which announces the arrival of  vegetables for sale from the outlying farms outside the town hall – (architecture soviet inspired circa 1950).

Technology is often decried and I am not qualified to comment on many of the issues progress brings with it – I am only just getting to grips with concepts of Open Data, realising hacking is not a description of a winter cough, that Tumblr is not a typo describing an act in Cirque de Soliel,  and as for yammer – well I work in sexual health so I had better not say where my mind went with that one!

One thing I do know though is that technology  facilitates communication and we should not be fearful of embracing the change.  One of the wisest things my Dad  said to me was that the most powerful tool in changing the world would be communication.  How true, I am old enough to remember the Vietnam War and how it changed the face of  war reporting,  I recently read an excellent article discussing how the recent Arab Spring and conflict in Libya had been notable not only for the role played by social media but the number of young and untrained photographers who had arrived  in the war zone as freelancers,  how print quality images were taken and transmitted using  mobile phones giving instant access to information across the globe. The discussion was whether this new generation of photo journalists was devaluing the role of the professional who had served a long apprenticeship learning their craft.  As someone who can, to this day remember the knock out blow of  seeing the raw power  and  emotion of Don McCullin’s images in the Sunday Times Magazine from the conflict zones of Vietnam, Biafra and Northern Ireland  that defined my teenage years  I feel that however the images arrive is almost irrelevant, it is what they say and communicate  to each of us that is important.

The family chatter this morning  may not have been earth shattering to anyone outside of the family but it was important to us and topics ranged from dementia care,  birthday gifts, the desire to be reincarnated as a cat in a good home and the impact of the current economic crisis on the eurozone.  At the end of the 2 hours I know that we feel better connected, more informed and just happier for having had that personal contact.

When my Dad made that comment about communication the Czech Republic was still Czechoslovakia, we had only just had a telephone installed in the house, phone numbers still had letters in them to delineate local exchanges, and video phone imagery was a figment of the sci-fi writers imagination. Over the years our communication with Czech has improved.  When my brother first went in the early 90’s  we relied on  a 5 min minute phone call on a dodgy line to a language school staff room and snail mail,  together we have moved along a continuum of  fax,  mobiles, texts, e-mail,  and now Skype.

Quite where all this will lead is anyones guess but two things I am sure of  in the uncertain world of today – Dad was right, and if we embrace it the technology will keep us more closely connected than ever.



About anneinmid

Ageing optimist still trying to make sense of life. New to blogging.

5 responses »

  1. Absolutely spot on! Excellent post. Now don’t forget those birthday pressies

  2. I absolutely agree – the way to break down barriers, learn to live better together and facilitate change, within families and on a global scale, lies with better communication. Social media has been blamed for so many things, but we only have to look at something that happened really recently, such as the London riots, to see that, perhaps it was involved in the problems, but it was certainly used in the immediate clean up too and hopefully in longer term solutions.

    On another note, my uncle is a photographer, and one of his best moments came from being praised for some of his work by Don McCullin, whose images are so eloquent and often heart-rending that they require no words – how can we fail to act when we see such things?

    Your Dad sounds like a wise man, and it’s a lovely thing that you’re able to communicate with your loved ones, no matter where they are.

    • yes social media is really complex but I think we need to keep working at it to use it as a force for good. We only have to look at the regimes that ban it and try and control it to see that they are afraid of free speech. Am so impressed that your uncle has met D McC who is an all time hero of mine and how wonderful to have his approval and appreciation.
      Hope you are feeling good and the sparkly purchase is in sight!

  3. Ha! Just had communication from nearer home… urgent request to bring lots of custard when I go for tea tonight…. daughter cooking…


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