Friday, June 6, 2014

Dash Dot Dash

In our Western Expansion unit this year, my history teacher attempted to explain telegrams to us. "It allowed people to communicate over long distances," he said, "Because this was before texting."
Oh, was it?
I actually taught myself Morse code when I was thirteen. It's absolutely useless because in four years I've never met anyone who knows more than SOS.
I've heard Morse explained in worse ways than this. "It allowed people to communicate over long distances-just like texting!"
Actually, telegrams were a precursor to telephones, which were a precursor to texting. I shouldn't have to explain which one is more convenient. Texting is shorthand. Morse is longhand. That last sentence would be -- --- .-. ... ./.. .../..-. --- -. --. .... .- -. -../ See why people did away with it?
Here's an excerpt from an article my local newspaper last Sunday:
"It may be difficult for those born after 1984 to imagine, but there was a time when one could not find out everything about a distant culture with the click of a mouse. No Internet could help because, well, no Internet existed.
Instead, people relied on books, magazines and the still relatively young thing called television to aid in their understanding. The jet aircraft made globe-hopping more possible, not only sending writers and photographers to faraway places but also bringing the results of their searches home much more quickly."
I was born in 1996. I remember rewinding cassettes and learning the proper way to insert a VHS in a VCR. I rolled my eyes when my parents bought our first DVD. "We have all the movies we need on tape, Mom." I didn't use the internet until I was seven and had a hard time figuring out why the toolbar didn't disappear when I scrolled down. I remember when electronic gaming meant tamagatchis and touch screens only responded to a stylus. Yet I've talked to adults who feel they need to explain the basics of tape recording to me.
Just because we have internet in the here and now doesn't mean we're completely ignorant about the existence of history. In fact, we lived through some of it.

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