Wednesday, February 14, 2024

Keep in Touch

  I get to see my daughter this week! In between visits, we still communicate now much as we did when I wrote this post in 2019.

I was a college student in the days where we had telephones in our rooms. Excuse me -- ONE telephone, attached to the wall above someone's desk, for the use of all who shared the room (and sometimes neighbors whose roommates were using their phones). Freshman year, I lived in a triple. Sophomore year, junior year and the first half of senior year, I lived in a double, then finally, during my last semester, in a single.

First time in my life I ever had my own phone.

The phone attached to the dorm-room wall was an upgrade, mind you. Prior to this, phones were in the hallway (I think we might have had one of those, too) for the use of the whole floor.

The presence of this phone (what we'd now call "a landline") in the room should not be confused with 24-hour long-distance service. The service was there but, unless there was some sort of emergency, we rarely called home unless it was on the weekend or after 11 p.m. on a weeknight because that's when the rates were lowest. Quasi-emergencies warranted calls between 7 p.m. and 11 p.m. but daytime calls were as rare as a single in one's freshman year. In between phone calls, we wrote letters. Actual letters, on paper, sent through the mail, which was not yet called snail mail because it was the only mail available.

Can you imagine?
As a 21st century parent, I'm grateful for the technology that makes contacts this infrequent a quaint, nostalgic story. I like my daughter's cell phone almost as much as she does, especially this semester when she's an ocean away. It isn't that we're in constant contact; it's that we can be if we want to be, and in so many formats. Sure, the phone on the wall promised that same luxury, but phone calls after midnight to anyone off-campus were reserved for serious emergencies and hometown boyfriends.

I'm not a helicopter parent, but I like the reassurance of knowing that I can check in on (not up on) my daughter "just because" and in real time. If I have something fun to share or if a news report hits too close to home, I can send out a quick text. Three quick exchanges and I've shared the news and we've connected, even if for just a few minutes.

It's interesting to discuss technology -- especially cell phones -- with my students, who are close to my daughter's age. The other day, in a class discussion, one student postulated that this is all so new that they're laying the groundwork for future generations. It was an interesting perspective, fascinating to contemplate. Will this cohort be more or less permissive with cell phones? Will the pendulum swing back?

Although I'm certain we'll never go back to the now oh-so-quaint rotary phone mounted to the wall, it's interesting to consider how we'll communicate in the future. The days of waiting until after 11PM are gone, much to the relief of exhausted parents everywhere, but what will take their place?     
As for me, I'm grateful to have a young adult who's a college student in the cell phone generation. I frequently think that I don't know how my parents did it -- sending two girls off to college with communication that was so limited by today's standards -- but I guess, at the time, those after-11PM and free weekends long-distance rates were as much the rage as cell phones are now.

I wonder how my daughter's (future) children will communicate with her, and how quaint today's cell phones will look by their standards. Just as we (or I, anyway) couldn't begin to imagine the changes that would take place between my college years and my daughter's, I'm sure that the changes to come are beyond any I can predict.

But, as long as mothers and daughters are still talking to one another, I suspect the method will be immaterial.

No comments:

Post a Comment