Moulton Lava

Moultonic Musings

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Location: New England, United States

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Message Units

Half a century ago, when the state of the art of personal communication was the desk telephone, the Bell System metered its service in terms of Message Units.  Roughly speaking, one Message Unit was a 3-minute local call.

The notion of messages comes and goes in our culture.  Nowadays, we are probably more aware of commercial messages than any other kind, even as we are awash in personal text messages and status updates on social networks.

The original notion of a Message Unit as a 3-minute local telephone call corresponded to a two-way conversation, typically between people in a local community who knew each other well.  Nowadays, messages tend to be less conversational and more narcissistic or self-promotional.  Are we losing the art of interpersonal dialogue, where we genuinely care about what's going on in each other's lives?

I would be happy to see a decline in message-based communication and a return to more meaningful human dialogue, with its ability to evoke empathetic bonds between people who genuinely care about each other.

End of message.