The evolution of “staying in touch”

Dec. 1

What it means to communicate has changed in the two decades since I first travelled.

Way back in 1992, backpacking through Europe after high school, email was an obscure electronic tool for the geekiest of computer geeks. I was in contact with my parents, infrequently, by long distance phone call, and I sent postcards. Every morning that autumn, my friend and I sought the USA Today in newsstands to find the latest on the Toronto Blue Jays’ World Series run.

By 1997, when I was again in Europe as an intern during University studies, the internet had gone mainstream. As the dial up access crackled and pinged in Bratislava, Slovakia, I waited eagerly for news from home. But I did this from a desktop computer in my office.

Ten years later, in 2007, much had changed again. I had my cool new Blackberry with me as I travelled through India and could send/receive messages in real time from Rajasthan. I had a blog too, on Myspace (remember them?) and could easily file my stories from Internet cafes anywhere on the subcontinent.

In 2011, I have a newer, better blog than the one I had in India. I have been posting every day on this trip. I can access my friends much more easily, due to Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. I’m writing from the ultraslick Macbook Air that I can carry with me without serious encumbrance. If I want, I can also use Skype rather than pay long distance changes. I have a newer, better Blackberry, but am aware there are superior devices available.

So over time my travel communications have become more frequent, have provided more information, and are reaching many more people. I can only hope that the quality has increased as much as the quantity.