The Alphorn – What an evolution we have made as a civilised society!
Way before the invention of the mobile phone, there have been but a few ways of communicating over long distances.
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Have a think about how people sent messages to one another when they were not local in a time before electricity. To me, the only thing that comes to mind is the postal delivery.
Stagecoaches or fast horses were used to deliver essential messages back then. However, this presupposed that one could actually read and write or knew someone who could. Therefore, it would not have made sense for the local greengrocer to print and distribute handouts “en masse” if the recipient of said advertisement only recognised the pictures of courgettes and onions, but could not decipher the prices, address and opening hours – and didn’t get that this deal may fool him.
Verbal communication is one of the earliest forms of human communication. If anyone wished for a message to be sent by a long-distance, a messenger was employed. However, those who brought terrible news were usually executed on the spot or sent on a marathon journey back to whence they came, then executed there… You quickly realised that such jobs were not too popular!
Other countries: the bush drums.
Developed by people living in forested areas, the drums served as a form of long-distance communication.
Imagine, if you will, more than 600 years ago, on a forested Pacific island or the American continent, the drum message arrives right in time for breakfast: “The local cultural association invites you, this afternoon at 2:30 pm, to a sit-in with tea and biscuits. Please don’t forget your membership card!“
Indeed, they were also advertising their wares and goods via bush drum. The dating service was probably part of the news too: “Onko-Donko’s fish are fresher than his brother Pilly-Willy’s fish – Onko-Donko’s fish on discount sale today – BUY! TODAY!” and “Middle-aged valiant warrior with own pony and home wigwam on instalment-plan seeks nice squaw for a romantic ride around the campfire and maybe more later” – Whereby one is not sure how the “swipe to the side” should work on such a drum dating app – But that shouldn’t matter, here at this point!
Back to Europe: The Alphorn
The Alpine peoples in Europe could communicate with the help of the alphorn, the alpine horn.
This had the advantage that the alpine dairyman didn’t have to scramble down the mountain if he forgot to tell his wife that he would be late for lunch today because he would join his buddies for a morning pint. He simply blew the alphorn: “Hey, old hag, I’ll be late today, I’m at the innkeepers!” And no one was surprised when, to the amusement of the entire valley, a minute later from the other direction echoed: “If you go to get drunk before lunch, you can stay right there – I won’t heat anything up for you in the evening you drunken old bast**d!“
You quickly realise that such confidences posted publicly provided entertainment on the one hand. Still, on the other, gossip also sowed discord and malice: “Listen Susi, they say that Frau Müller from the backyard is having her dress made tighter, but I have the impression that she’s getting fatter and fatter, the buffet slaying hippopotamus, and her ugly husband is chasing every skirt!“
At the latest, when the youngest members of our society at this point discovered the social medium “alphorn” for themselves and annoyed the valley with whinging messages such as: “Mamaaaa – Lisaaa always pushes me, tell her, mamaaaa. It’s not fairrrrr“, people thought about inventing the telephone.
Nowadays – of course – reasonable people don’t use drums or alphorns anymore but prefer Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp – What an evolution we have made as a civilised society!
Or, on the other hand, have we?