by Cynthia Rodriguez We do not know how to communicate anymore. Communication has become a lost artform. It seems like people can't talk to each other unless it involves some kind of electronic gizmo, otherwise they are lost without it. This is a tragedy, and an epidemic, yet I don't think people realize that. When did this happen? Technology supposed to make us better. Better,smarter, faster. I think it's made us dumber, less intimate,and less personal. It made us worse. When smart phones become smarter than the people who use them, then Houston we have a problem. All these little thing-a-ma-jigs come with instruction manuals that are usual bigger than the products themselves. When did we let all these cell phones, and with their endless world of texting...."OMG", "LOL", "BRB", and laptops, and tablets, and blackberries, and and ipods, ipads, this pad, that pad, maxi-pad.....get between us, and real communication with the rest of the world? Like WTF? Remember life before cellphones? We all survived without them for a LONG time. Remember public telephones? Even better, phone BOOTHS? Like the kind Clark Kent used to go into to turn into Superman. I really wish I would've had sex in one of those, just to say that I did, back in the day. But I digress. All you needed was a dime, then it went up to a quarter. And then there were phonecards for the long-distance. If you needed to make a call, you needed to find a phone. You had to work for that shit. Remember writing letters? Penpals? Postcards? Letter writing is an art in itself. People hardly even mail out Christmas cards anymore. Electronic mail changed everything. E-mail, instant messenging, e-cards for all occasions, birthdays, and holidays. --- I used to write letters. Have penpals. Nothing like getting mail that's not junkmail or bills. I would buy pretty stationary just to write letters, or thank you notes, or just nice little notes for people in general. Or get a cool series of postcards to send to people. I always thought that was a nice gesture. Nothing like getting something handwritten. I even used to write to my favorite companies about products I used. Yes, I know. That part was sad. I had a friend that joined the PeaceCorps for a couple years, and I wrote her a few long letters. It was quite the task. I had to literally go to the post office each time to get special postage for it to go to Africa. It was such a joy getting mail from another country. It was so exciting for me every time I went to pick up one of her letters. Something special about reading something sent to you from far away in someone's handwriting. Speaking of the post office. I think there needs to be a little "Test the Post Office" happening again. (See Ray Johnson) I had started that from my art studio, but for some reason I had to put that art show on hiatus. I'll need to try that again. It basically involves mailing all kinds of everyday objects in the mail without packing, such as, getting one sneaker in the mail with a bunch of postage all over it. I had a long time friend who was a master of letter writing. More than anyone I've ever known, or probably will ever know. Barba-Dell. Rest her soul. A master of communication, in every which way, in person, on the phone, in a letter or postcard, everything except electronically. The person I knew who was the best at communication never owned a computer, desktop, laptop, or any other little gadgets. I believe not even a cell phone, but a land line. Most people with every form of communicating with the rest of the world at their fingertips never even get close to that level of communication with other human beings. She didn't need any of those things, nor wanted them. She was very wise. I still have all the postcards she sent me. Years worth. She sent them to me all the time. She was known for that. She didn't need an excuse like visiting some foreign land to send a postcard. She lived about 5 minutes from me. It's hard for me to imagine an entire generation being born and raised without knowing how to use the post office. Never having written a letter and mailed it out. Social media is great, if used wisely. And not used as the cure-all, end-all, alpha and omega of communication. No wonder people don't know how to talk to each other anymore. It's no mystery to me why there is always some kind of new social disorder popping up all the time. We have created a habitat that is creating anti-social creatures. A world where terms like "trolling" and "lurking" and "creeping" exists because people don't know how to talk to each other. Not that it doesn't have it's place in today's world but relationships can't be based on today's technology. Nothing can replace the feel of face to face communication. No computer screens, large or small to hide behind. It's a whole different world when you actually have to look each other in the eye, and speak to each other, like it was always meant to be.