Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : May 26th 2015 Contents A30
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Tuesday, May 26, 2015
It was around five years ago that I realised that
the way I communicate had completely changed.
Never one for long conversations on the phone and
always forgetting to silence my ringer on the mobile,
I simply put the phone on silent one day and never
turned it back on.
Sometimes people ask the question, usually when
confronted with my call-card with its intimidating
number of contact points, "What s the best way to
My preference over the last half-decade has migrated
steadily but inexorably toward text-based solutions.
For the desperately curious, my preference runs in
order from mobile phone text message to Facebook
chat and Twitter DM.
Contacts made that
way always get imme-
diate attention. I rarely
check phone messages
on my mobile and
never bother with my
The reasons for
that, though, are less
digital than socially
Around five years
ago, it became clear
that we had a problem with our number, which is
uncomfortably close to that of a popular religious
At first, the calls were an irritation, sparking sharp
responses, until that unforgettable night when I picked
up the phone at one in the morning, sparking with
anger, only to be met with the husky croak of an old
"Hello," she said, with a desperate yearning, "I m
calling for prayers."
It was right at that point that I called a family con-
ference to triage the situation. I would flag most of
the calls with a standard response, repeating my num-
ber and noting that the caller had reached a private
This only works about half the time. I often have
to repeat my response three times to people who
simply won t accept that they have the wrong num-
ber.Some people hang up and call back, apparently
believing in a higher power that can reroute the call
to the radio station s phones.
Some people get angry. I ve gotten used to it, because
I refuse to surrender a number I ve had for almost
three decades because of an upstart media house.
I also don t expect my current communications
mix to last forever.
Lately, people have been declaring Facebook dead
for young people. I discovered that around four years
ago when a student-initiated page for the photography
course I teach at UWI s Film School essentially expired.
Seven years before, when the bright sparks under
my tutelage created it, it was a hub of discussion,
postings and comments. Now it s a ghost town, except
for the occasional bit of spam and only five students
from the last 12 semesters of intake have signed up.
They have clearly moved on from that medium,
and I look at the page occasionally, a bit wistfully
perhaps, but the page and Facebook are done for the
young people in my classes.
As an old people s medium, Facebook continues
to thrive, however.
I struck up contact with this newspaper s new Edi-
tor-in-Chief rather brazenly there and stoked a pro-
fessional relationship with him over five weeks before
actually meeting him in person.
There are clearly ways that social media can lubricate
the process of engaging with strangers, even as those
same channels invite abusive behaviour and incidents
My own personal investment in such channels is
governed by practicality rather than allure, but I am
well aware that for others, online engagements con-
stitute a significant part of their relationship with
their world, both immediate and dif-
There are communications channels
that fly competely under my radar, such
as Whisper and Snapchat, simply
because the majority of those I engage
with aren t there.
Even WhatsApp seems to exist out-
side the communications portfolios of
most of those I call friends in the real
Telecommunications companies both
internationally and locally have frowned
on such software and protocols to vary-
ing degrees, but such migrations of
communications traffic are inevitable.
Companies supplying enabling archi-
and services will increasingly have to
build into their business plans the
migration of communication that was
once billed by the minute to a range of
over-the-top services that will con-
stantly change and evolve.
Choosing to ignore that reality is going
to be as deadly as trying to stifle it.
On the Internet, nobody knows you're a dog.
PHOTO BY JAVIER BROSCH, DEPOSITPHOTOS
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