I NOTICED THE TYPO AROUND 10:30 P.M. I WAS already home. There was nothing I could do about it.

For better or worse, modern communication technology makes contact ‘inescapable’

I NOTICED THE TYPO AROUND 10:30 P.M. I WAS already home. There was nothing I could do about it. The next morning’s paper would have a misspelled name in the front page story’s lead.

Distraught, I did what comes naturally: I plastered my disappointment across my Facebook account.

Ten minutes later, I got an instant message from someone still in the office. “I saw your status update. I can fix that for you if you want.”

And so, because of the miracle of modern communication technology, there were no typos in my story the next day.

It made me realize how public we make our lives. And yet, at the same time, it seems as if we are becoming, individually, more and more isolated.

Joseph Priestley, far-sighted for a theologian and scientist of 18th-century England, once said, “The more elaborate our means of communication, the less we communicate.” It rings true today, in the era of Twitter and AIM, Facebook walls and MySpace comments. E-mail almost seems like a dinosaur — a dinosaur of expression and articulation, where thoughts may be carefully formulated in a box larger than four lines.

Think about it: When was the last time you talked to a friend? Perhaps you text messaged each other, a process which usually involves an exchange of fewer than 150 characters on each side. Or maybe you opted for the IM route, exchanging LOLs over a hyperlink.

Now, when was the last time you had a meaningful conversation with a friend?

Yet despite the lack of meaningful exchanges, contact with other people is almost inescapable.

This summer, I went on a four-day, 45-mile backpacking trip. Halfway in, I crested the 12,000-foot-high Glen Pass. The vista was 360 degrees of treeless mountains; the wind whistling through their barren boulders; birds circling far below me.

And on the saddle of the pass, a lone backpacker stood talking into his satellite phone.

“Can you hear me?” he yelled into the device. “I’m on Glen Pass, man. Glen Pass. Yeah. I’ll be home in like three days.”

The top of the world is where men have migrated to find their souls and to rekindle their minds. It has been said that one climbs the mountain because one will return to the valley changed by what he has seen.

I saw a man on a cell phone.

I posted about it on my blog when I returned.

Heather Billings is a senior at Fresno State majoring in mass communication and journalism with emphases in print journalism and digital media.