In Defense of the Internet

I inherited a box of letters recently and I cannot possibly read them quick enough. But the handwritten text, the stains that I imagine are from tears and the faint smell of perfume require me to take time to truly inhale all of the contents of the letters. The letters are from the 1940’s and 1950’s between my husband’s grandparents, and they are truly a treasure. Black and white pictures from port visits to the South Pacific islands and yellowed newspaper clippings from the hometown newspaper made their way across the seas between two people who were virtual newlyweds. The real emotions of love and the pain of separation are visible in these precious letters.

Tonight, I will pick up my iPad to Skype with my husband. I will share links to news stories on Google+. Today, my heart is breaking for the families of those lost in Afghanistan and mutual pain and prayers are shared with other military spouses on Twitter. I have the amazing opportunity to write for SpouseBUZZ, allowing me to be a part of this amazing community on the World Wide Web. Blogging allows me to have an outlet to share (and vent!) about our current military move, and will allow me to share our new life with our family when we get in country later this month. I believe that the internet and social media have made this military experience so much easier to navigate for my family.

But the allure and romanticism of “the good ole days” makes me a tiny bit sad that my children may not have a box of letters documenting our great love story to pass on to future generations.  But I must say: despite my nostalgia for days gone by, I wouldn’t want to return to those days. While high tech communication and social media can sometimes seem “surface” and less lasting than the tear-stained stationary of past generations, with technological and societal developments come positive change that benefit the military and military families. Email only came to deployed service members within the last couple of decades. Video conferences allow military members to see a brand new baby for the first time or to read a book to their preschooler. Shortened deployments have been implemented to strengthen both the moral and mental health of the military member and to help strengthen the military family. Perhaps even more importantly, technology has brought tremendous life saving benefits to our military.

Certainly with change and development, new challenges arise. Military families now travel to duty stations that would have been unaccompanied just a decade ago. The internet and its immediate access to tragedy can make those left at home anxious and traumatized. And, let’s admit it, the internet can be a dark place with lots of temptation for those far from home or left home alone. Whether technology is viewed as a positive or negative development to the military family is altered drastically based on personal experience. For me, I have made personal goals to do some old-school letter writing while we are stationed overseas, and to print out a fraction of the million pictures on my hard drive. But I will also embrace technology for all its worth to enhance our ability to communicate with our friends and family back home.

What about you? Do you loathe or love social media and technology? Do you think it is a good or bad thing for today’s military?

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