How Technology Is Muting Our Capacity to Communicate

From analog dreams to digital dystopia

Erik P.M. Vermeulen, PhD
4 min readApr 12, 2024
Photo courtesy of author

Last week, I visited a nursing home and was struck by the sense that I had stepped back in time. It felt like I was in a time capsule.

The place was filled with relics of a bygone era: cassette tapes featuring music from before I was born, VHS tapes, and a fax machine. In one of the corridors, I even saw a coin payphone.

One of the nurses was connecting an analog TV set with a coaxial cable.

Seeing all these relics of a pre-digital world reminded me of how communication used to be so much different — and, ironically, simpler and better — than it is today.

When I was around ten years old, my parents bought their first video recorder, a Philips with Video2000 cassette tapes. Later, they switched to VHS, a monumental change for me as a kid. I remember being amazed by the wider availability and expansive collection of movies at the local video rental store.

Similarly, when I got my first job, I was equally amazed by the fax machine. It was a real, nuisance when we ran out of the required thermal paper.

These technological developments represented an era where technology enhanced my life without overwhelming it.



Erik P.M. Vermeulen, PhD

Prof (law) exploring the collision of life, work, and technology, with a current project in the works - a sci-fi novel.