Until 200,000 years ago, speech was unknown to the human race. Speech was developed as a means of communication among humans due to the mutation of the FOXP2 gene. It was this mutation that led to the rapid evolvement of human beings, which made humans the superior beings they are today.
Symbols were developed 30,000 years ago, and writing 7000 years ago. Communicating messages to people at a distant location started in the prehistoric age, with the use of fires, beacons etc. Mail (Post) was developed in the 6th Century BC, followed by the development of heliographs, etc. The electrical telegraph was invented in 1838, the Telephone in 1876, and from 1969 onwards, computer networking, internet, e-mail, and wireless communications.
We have come a very long way from the pre-historic age, in terms of the cost, speed, and flexibility to send messages to any number of people in any part of the world. Going by the logic of scientists, who dedicate superiority of humans over other species due to the development of speech, we could conclude that given the present level of development in communication, humans would now have to be more supremely evolved than ever. Sadly, this isn’t true.
This is only because, humans have been focusing more on the “mode of communication” rather than communication itself. Indeed, there are plenty of courses, workshops, books, journals, articles and blogs – all teaching us that in order to be good communicators, we must be a good listener, have the right attitude, establish eye-contact, be precise, and so on. Even then, are people really able to communicate with each other? How many times have we concluded “No use, he\she\they will never understand”? People working different jobs all over the world obsess day and night to get their boss, or a client, a media person, politician… someone – to just listen to them. Closer home, we have everything at our disposal – mobiles, landlines, e-mail, VOIP, net meetings, messenger chat, video conferencing, conference calling – everything. Yet, we find ourselves unable to talk to people.
Seems to be a huge mystery, but it isn’t. The problem is, we are blinded. We are so obsessed with ourselves and our gadgets, that we have forgotten what is important. Everywhere, I see people on their mobiles – buses, trains, offices, restaurants and movie theaters. But rarely do I see people actually talking to the person they are with at that moment. It appears that we are so wrapped up in technology, that we cannot even distinguish between the person in front of us and the person on the other end of the phone anymore.
Maybe it’s time for us to stop, and to take a look around us to appreciate the real world – to be human again. Like the fat man and woman in Wall-E, who realise each other’s presence only when they get disconnected from their systems. So the next time you are on a date, or at a family dinner, switch that phone off – and live life for a while. It’s totally worth it.