Talk to people who lived in the days when there were no laptops, tablets or personal computers.
I find that many GP students, being digital natives who grew up with the Internet and mobile phone, don’t truly appreciate how profound an impact these infocomm technologues have had on our lives. Talking to older people (in their 30s and older) will help you to appreciate the impact and wonder of technology much better. It will help put more feeling and personal connection into your GP essays.
Just to share a cute little example with you:
When I was in the Army in the early 1990s, there were no mobile phones. So every night a long line of soldiers would queue up at the coin phones (public telephones) to make a call to their girlfriends. Imagine saying all kinds of mushy things to your girl while a long line of sweaty, smelly guys stood right behind you waiting impatiently.
Such was the difficulty of keeping in touch with people in those days. When you were unable to meet someone face to face on a regular basis, the only two ways to keep in touch were to call the person’s house or office phone, or write a letter on paper.
It was inconvenient and time-consuming, for sure. It was difficult to get hold of someone on the phone. If you called their home, they might not have been home (good luck to you if the girl’s very strict father picked up). If you left a message with their family member, perhaps they would call you back but then you might not be home. Writing letters with pen and paper was time-consuming and tiring, not to mention buying a stamp and walking to the letter box to mail it.
But in those days, people were more sincere to one another, and friendships were deeper. People had circles of close friends rather than the volumes of acquaintances in today’s era of Facebook and online social networking. Writing a letter is a labour of love, but you communicate your deepest thoughts and feelings. Today, people just take a few seconds to tweet, text or click “Like” on Facebook. Convenience is attractive, but convenience breeds laziness and superficiality. Good things take effort, and that includes personal communication.
A senior executive at Mont Blanc was recently asked, in the age of the Internet, what is the relevance of the good old-fashioned pen — including the exquisite writing instruments that Mont Blanc produces?
This elderly French gentleman acknowledged that modern electronic communications are very convenient. “But when you write someone a real letter, it shows them that you value them because you are willing to give them your time.” That was one of the most profound things that I have ever heard anyone say. When someone is willing to give you their time, it shows that they value you. But the converse is equally true: if someone does not give you any of their time, it shows that you mean nothing to them. Remember that, kids.
It might be pretty far-fetched to expect you teenagers to write someone a letter on paper today. But if you really treasure someone, write them a long email or a long note on Facebook (say, 4-8 paragraphs). It would still be a letter, a labour of love – except that it would be in electronic form. It would add depth to your communication. It would show that you value the person.
GP and English tuition by First Class Honours grad from NUS with over a decade’s experience. For more information, please click “About the Tutor” and “Track Record” at the top of this web page or call Steven Ooi at 98392152.