A lot of the article “Touch Someone” was about how in the beginning years of the telephone, that it was not used as it is today. It was not used for socializing, but rather was touted as something which could help one in their daily life. It was not until later that the companies started selling the telephone as a tool that could be used to keep in contact with other people on a daily basis. And in a sense, it was taught and sold, as illustrated in the quote “Friendship’s path often follow the trail of the telephone wire” (43). But, it wasn’t until telephones were marketed in this way (for social purposes) that people really got interested and started using them that way.
I think that in much the same way that people had to be taught how to use the telephone, people also have to be taught how to speak in general. It may not always be as direct as an advertisement telling one to do something, and at the same time, some methods may be even more direct. For example, I was always taught to address adults with their title and to always be polite when speaking to them. While I wouldn’t exactly consider it a program, it was something that my parents, and many other 1st generation Asian immigrants, try to teach, because in Asian culture, giving respect to those who are older or hold positions of power is almost a given. It’s in our very language. We sometimes use words that are specifically designated as formal or informal. We attach suffixes to names when necessary.
However, while this was very direct, that was as a result of culture. As people grow up, we naturally learn how to interact with another in a friendly way. Nowadays, most people are usually pretty civil to each other in passing. Or sometimes, people suck up their inner feelings to avoid conflict, but that is something we learn as we grow up. When we are young, we often times speak our minds, but as we grow up, adults, other children, and our own experiences slowly teaches that we can’t always speak our minds.
In the last case I can think of, I feel as if this is something that everyone goes through. When we first get a job, or go to an interview, we are always told either what to say or how to say it, either by our parents or friends or someone else who has experience. It may be that for this and other similar occasions (such as meeting a business partner) that there may actually be classes for this.
These are all similar to the case with the telephone, in that they are ways that we learn how to socialize and interact with people, and yet all very different from it. In the case of the telephone, companies were trying to sell a product, and through that introduced a way to socialize. It also was show people a way to interact through a new means, while the above three cases are more cases that have been established. People always learned how to grow up, and one would always treat an employer with respect. While the case of the telephone was one where something new was introduced, the other three are more established practices.