Discover more from Smith Street
The World Has Shrunk
How Technology Has Redefined Our Experience Living Abroad
Once upon a time, our primary mode of communication was through handwritten letters. We can recall stories told to us by our grandmothers when the simple act of communicating across far distances was a cherished event. A letter from a loved one was read and reread, treasured for the connection it provided. Making a phone call overseas was a luxury, and the costs associated with doing so were incredibly high for only a few minutes of conversation. It was almost like speed dating, you know, without the dating part. Brendan can recall a specific story from his grandmother—her youngest child (Brendan’s Aunt) was traveling overseas for an extended period of time. Communication was limited to hand-written letters or VERY expensive long distance phone calls. During one of these phone calls, his grandfather piped up “Mardee, you might as well get on a plane and go visit Kathryn!” To him, a flight seemed to make more sense than continuing to pay the high phone bills.
Smith Street is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.
Fast forward to a few decades later, and Kaila found herself moving abroad to China. By then, the world had started to shrink, thanks to the emergence of social media and various communication apps. The days of waiting for letters were long gone. Instead, Kaila could instantly connect with someone through a Zoom call or use an app to chat with them while she was living a world away. The immediacy of it all was both exhilarating and overwhelming.
Today, the landscape of communication has shifted even more dramatically. With the rapid growth of smartphones and social media platforms, we have the choice to share every aspect of our lives. Our older relatives, who once relied on letters or expensive long-distance phone calls, are now active on platforms like WhatsApp and various social media sites. They can see what we’re up to, comment on our posts, and engage in real-time conversations. It's a far cry from the one-way street of the past, where you only knew about someone's life if they chose to tell you. Now, it's about showing as much as it is about telling.
This rapid evolution of communication is a double-edged sword. On one hand, it's a beautiful thing to be so connected, to have the ability to share and engage with loved ones no matter the distance. On the other hand, the constant influx of information can be overwhelming, blurring the lines between genuine connection and mere digital interaction.
In reflecting on the evolution of communication from letters to likes, we’re left pondering: Is the evolution of communication always a step forward? Or are there nuances we need to consider, especially as the pace of change accelerates?
Perhaps the essence of this newsletter is to highlight the transformative nature of communication over the years, especially for those of us who have experienced life abroad. As we navigate this digital age, it's essential to cherish genuine connections and be mindful of the quality of our interactions, no matter the medium.
Smith Street: fueled by readers and caffeine! 📚☕ Want our quirky posts? Subscribe for free! Feeling generous? Toss a coin for premium content!