NO ONE believes me when I tell them my first newspaper employed ‘human’ runners to race news stories back to the office … written out by hand, in ink, on paper; often by me, when banished to the Press Bench at Brighton Crown Court for my sins (less of a penance when the runner was dishy!).
And I didn’t take that from the pages of Evelyn Waugh’s Scoop, published in 1938. I’m not that old.
My point is, nothing is changing faster than the way we communicate. Who’d have imagined a few (ahem) years ago that one day it would be normal to have 5,000 friends and be able to send to Christmas cards to them all!
Friends we talk to but have never met … some of us going so far as to show them candid pictures of what we did last Saturday night, and to whom, because we’ve got our privacy buttons in a muddle.
We’ve adapted so fast (well, some of us have), talking of gigabytes of RAM like they’ve been in the Oxford Dictionary for years. If only animals could learn the language that fast (*gives sentimental Dr Doolittle sigh*).
Not so long ago, if a stranger offered to ‘give you a WhatsApp’ he’d be risking a punch on the nose; now we Skype and SMS each other, sounding like we’re indulging in some hip form of bondage.
I am neither a ‘Skyper’ nor a ‘Skypee’. No one’s going to catch me at three in the afternoon in bed, in my dressing gown, in glorious Technicolor!
Nor am I a ‘WhatsApp-er’. All that two-thumbed texting on tiny keyboards at the speed of the Flight of the Bumblebee is beyond me.
I was trained on a QWERTY keyboard at journalist college in Portsmouth. I need 10 fingers for that. Have done since I passed my 60wpm. touch-typing exam (around the time I danced to Mud playing Tiger Feet at the end of Southsea Pier).
As for smartphones, I use the Samsung Galaxy Note I bought this year almost exclusively to watch Film On movies and Sky News on Pick TV.
I hardly every use it to actually speak to anyone, unless forced to by an incoming call. With its extra big screen, it feels like you’re holding two slices of Hovis to your head. It’s so much easier to email.
I bought the Note after many hours of late-night surfing, chuffed with the little pen that slots out of the bottom like a real pen and notebook – the Stone Age journalist’s equivalent of a baby’s dummy. Yes, I was born in the ‘Stone’ age, when newspapers were actually made up on one.
I only took the pen out once and was bombarded by so many apps and options I haven’t dared touch it since.
Now where did I put my runner?