Communicating in the digital age

Communicating in the digital age

When I left for Pittsburgh in July, I left a lot behind. Whether it’s for college or a new job, you just can’t take everyone with you. The two biggest things I left behind — friends and family.
To this day, I must face the task of making sure I keep in contact with all the people I left behind in Chicago.
In college, I noticed students all had different ways of keeping in touch with their families. There were those that called mom and dad every day, those that sometimes forgot they had a mom and dad and me; I fell somewhere in the middle.
I would say I called home, or most of the time home called me, about once every few days. It was a perfect fit.
Not much has changed since I came to Pittsburgh. I talk to my parents a few times a week and while I can’t use the phrase “send money” anymore, we amazingly find things to talk about.
The biggest change is the seemingly endless ways I can communicate with my parents and friends.
My mom told me that when she was in college she called home every Sunday — on a pay phone.
Do pay phones still exist?
Today I have my cell phone, instant messaging, text messaging, Skype, Facebook, MySpace and probably a few other modes I haven’t even discovered.
I use all of the above to communicate with my friends. In fact, there is only one person I still talk with every day on the phone, she’s an exception. Everyone else relies on texting me, IMing me on my screen name or posting on my Facebook wall.
My parents, while they used to be confined to just the phone, are creeping into the technological world, once reserved just for people my age.
I’ll never forget the first time I got a text message from my dad. I don’t remember what it said, but I just remember realizing my parents were beginning to enter my world.
When my dad signed onto AOL Instant Messenger and began to IM me, I knew they were getting even closer. Now I had to be careful what away message I put up. I eventually stopped caring and came to the realization that if my dad wants to read what I’m really doing in college, I just hope he’s prepared.
However, it wasn’t until this past year, when my parents broke down the barrier that separated my generation from their generation and signed up for Facebook.
Facebook came out only for college students during my freshman year; it’s changed quite a bit. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. My extended family is also logging onto Facebook and I’m learning about all these family members I never knew (or forgot) I had.
While I’ll admit communication with my extended family doesn’t really increase because of Facebook, it’s just nice to have the option.
I should probably mention that I have one friend who doesn’t even accept his own family as Facebook friends.
To defend this friend, some people my age are extremely freaked out by the fact that our parents are now entering the digital age, an age that was once considered to be ours.
However, for someone like me who is 500 miles away from home, it’s nice to have so many ways to communicate with friends and family I left behind.
Sometimes I don’t feel like talking on the phone, and if I’m on the phone I sometimes have to figure out a polite way to hang up.

Online its — gtg ttyl dad.

(“On My Own,” which is published monthly, deals with issues facing a young Jewish adult as he lives on his own in a new city. Mike Zoller can be reached at

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