Sunday, 22 July 2012

A friend expressed

disappointment yesterday. A mutual friend has returned to her home country and she has not yet heard from her. I have. 
My friend here has no access to e-mail. She is not computer literate. She is a migrant from a non-English speaking background. 
I think that may be the problem. Our friend expects to be able to correspond via e-mail. The idea of writing a "snail mail" letter and posting it simply has not occurred to her. It is simpler to send me an e-mail and expect me to pass the news along.
It has happened before and it will almost certainly happen again. Things have changed.
My mother was a letter writer. When we lived in rural areas she would write to her mother each week. A phone call would have been relatively very expensive so my mother would sit down and fill several pages in her neat, flowing hand.  It was expected of her.
When we left home to go to school in the city she wrote to us. The letters were often much shorter but they came. Equally we were expected to respond - and we did.
When I went to university on the other side of the world I would write each Friday night. I kept the habit up when I lived interstate as well. My mother expected it. Failure to get a letter each week would have resulted in a severe telling off - never mind that I was well over twenty-one. It was easier to comply. My mother was not worried. She was looking for control - and did so by causing my father to worry if they did not hear from me. She expected the same from my brother even after he married and moved interstate.
Now my father and my brother talk most Sunday evenings. My brother will usually phone my father then - or on Monday. They are long distance calls but now much cheaper. My father finds the physical act of writing much more difficult than my mother did. He prefers to hear my brother's voice.  He has not got to grips with e-mail and is unlikely ever to do so.
I wonder whether my mother would have come to use e-mail. I rather doubt it. It would not have suited her purpose.
But I do think my friend here can learn to use e-mail. She can access a computer in the library near her home. I can help her set up an e-mail address and show her what to do.
All it will then take is for our mutual friend to respond.

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