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Friday, June 21, 2024

Real Life – Speaking in code


In childhood, my siblings and I played games fueled by imagination.

Without the benefit of advanced technology, rather than plug into an alternate reality someone else had fashioned for our consumption, we reenacted what we had learned about through books, or conversations around the dinner table.

One of our favorite diversions was playing war.

Although it would seem odd for present day adults to buy such things, my parents had supplied my brothers with an array of children’s mock fatigues, including helmets with plastic fern camouflage. They had realistic replica machine guns on tripods, and I had a selection of nurse uniforms—that being the only acceptable role-play envisioned for me at the time.

When we weren’t shutting off the lights and hiding under blanket forts, awaiting the next fake attack, we were working out the finer points of Morse Code.

I spent time memorizing the dots and dashes needed to make a message, intrigued by the possibilities. When our young neighbor got a cheat sheet, too, flash lights, previously employed to read beneath covers, worked great for sending ideas across our yards in the darkness of night.

This turned out to be excellent preparation for text messaging, with the delay in translation and interpretation these often entail.

Who could have foreseen that politeness would suggest that placing a telephone call is best preceded by a written request for an appointment? Or that a land line would become little more than a strident portal to endless annoyance?

We felt privileged when phones were wired into our college dorm rooms, or when an extra long cord was installed on a home wall phone to enhance privacy and mobility.

Today, I revel in the way technology has enhanced life, from interactive Ring doorbells, to YouTube instructional videos, live streaming, What’s App group chats and FaceTime. 

Have our imaginations, moods, and communication skills improved in the process? 

My decoder ring indicates that might be up for discussion. (c)

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Patti Koltes
Patti Koltes
Real Life © by Patti Koltes. Contact her at pkoltes@gmail.com.