Monday, 8 December 2014

To Start you Thinking – Postal Pampering

From “The Pilot” of 1964 comes this extraordinary piece, which was evidently deliberately intended to provoke comments.

The good reverend would probably rejoice in the less frequent mail delivery of today – one a day, and not on Saturdays at all (except in the run up to Christmas). However, along with a decline in mail being sent comes rising prices, and he would probably still be grumbling away.

When he was writing about telephones, not everybody had a telephone, and for country exchanges in Jersey, one had to call the operator, and ask for a number. People also had “party lines” when a telephone line, often in a flat, was shared with other occupants. So his piece reflects the technology of the times.

One thing which does strike a chord about the telephone, which could apply equally well to the internet, of course, is when he points out that telephones encourage people “to ring each other up instead of meeting each other.” He is speaking in particular of the clergy, but what he says applies just as much to society in general.

The internet especially can actually be very isolating. There is a cartoon (above) about Facebook and a Funeral. Facebook friends can well be, in many ways, virtual friends, and what appears to be close and friendly can in fact be a mirage. Social media can dupe us into believing we have relationships with people because the chatty way it is used suggests familiarity.

On the other hand, it does enable people to stay in touch at a distance – family and friends who are out of touch. My niece is in New Zealand, and she can Skype to her mother. I can Skype to my girlfriend. But this does not mean we do not meet, or that I do not meet other close friends on Facebook.

A chat over a coffee allows all the social cues and nuances that relationships need, and it is always nice to actually meet people who have previously just been friends on Facebook, in person, and talk to them.

The virtual community of the internet allows people to be in touch with each other, but it should not be a substitute for meeting people. That is always the danger inherent, that we lose the social skills which our grandparents and parents had.

Although it has allowed me to find what in the old days were called “pen friends” whom I email, and who email me back. That can be done much more easily with email than with the old means of letter writing, and more cheaply. I dare say that the Reverend Francis might approve.

To Start you Thinking – Postal Pampering
By the Reverend P. H. Francis

My mail is delivered to me twice daily. 1 do not need it delivered so frequently; and l certainly do not like having to pay for this unnecessary luxury, nor do I want to be pampered in this manner. Two deliveries a week for people living in the country, and three deliveries each week for townspeople, should be sufficient. If business firms want their letters more often they could collect it themselves from the Post Office on the other days.

The Post Office is encouraging us to live in a hand-to-mouth way, and we now feel uncomfortable if the postman does not call twice each day, and imagine we cannot do without being waited on in this fashion.

It is the same with telephones, which suit people who cannot think ahead. Few people need telephones, and they are a luxury for most. The government should refuse telephones to farmers, shopkeepers and clergy. Farmers do not need telephones.

Shopkeepers need them only because other shopkeepers have them; and if none of them had telephones, shoppers would be compelled to think ahead, and give proper orders, instead of ringing up for goods whenever they remembered they wanted them, and life would be much easier for shopkeepers.

Telephones are a nuisance to the clergy, and encourage parishioners and clergy to ring each other up instead of meeting each other.

If the chief of a business has a telephone on his desk, it probably shows he can't think ahead, and does not know what he will do next or what others will do; and that his business is inefficient, and run in a hand-to-mouth way.

The only people who need telephones are doctors, invalids, hospitals, fire brigades, police, and other similar people or organisations. A call box in each village or town should be sufficient for emergency calls by private individuals. Private people should not be allowed to have telephones, but if they must have them, should be made to pay heavily for the luxury.

It is no use complaining about high postal charges. Instead we should stop demanding luxuries, and the postal and telephone services could then be operated at one-tenth of the present cost, and in return we should find life would be much easier, and far less of a horrid rush and hurry.

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