How Human Communication Has Evolved
In the modern age, communication has never been easier. So much so in fact, that many suggest that it is too easy for us to communicate and that as a result, we have become overly dependent on data and information consumption. For the majority of people, however, the broad range of options we can use for communication is nothing short of incredible. Whichever camp you happen to be in, we can all agree that the evolution of human communication is a fascinating one. From the days of smoke signals through to social media and digital call-handling services to video calling software, here is how communication has evolved.
We may think that we’ve witnessed the biggest advance in non-verbal communication, with the invention of the internet, yet there were giant leaps long before that. The earliest forms of communication were drawings and paintings, most often on cave walls. Evidence of this has been dated back more than 30,000 years, during the Upper Paleolithic age. Our best calculations of speech, show that verbal communication began around 100,000 years ago. It should be noted that back then, speech would have sounded more like a series of grunts and calls, rather than language as we now know it.
The fundamentals of cave painting continued through the ages, albeit with improved accuracy and a broader range of images. We can see this with evidence like hieroglyphics and cuneiform from various cultures around the world. From 9,000 BC onwards, we can see how these pictograms were utilized to not only show events that had taken place but using images as letters.
Business and Communication
Much of the early writing that has been deciphered comes from the Sumerians, from the 5th millennium BC. These used images and most frequently were used to describe commodities. Business, therefore, was the earliest form of communication. This was no doubt used to be able to communicate with traders who spoke other languages.
Our earliest example of an alphabet similar to our own was from the 16th Century BC, from the Phoenicians. It was not until the invention of paper in 105 AD that writing began to grow in popularity. Previously papyrus and other writing implements were too rare or expensive. Fast-forward to the invention of the quill in 1250, and we began to see communication broaden across the globe.
The 19th Century invention of the Morse Code and telegraph communication was a huge leap that allowed long-distance communication. Predominantly this was used by armed forces and shipping companies, as a way of communicating.
Throughout the 20th Century, however, several advancements brought the world closer together through communication. The most notable of these were the TV, the telephone, mobile phones, the radio, and the internet. Before the invention of the telephone, many would use telegrams and letters, although both were a little slow and limited as to how much information could be included. The telephone changed the game and made conversations easier than ever before.
And of course the internet, the world’s information highway and the fastest and easiest method of communication. This began with email, followed by instant messaging, and then social media and digital messaging services. The timeline from grunts to the invention of the alphabet seems enormous when we look at what has been achieved in the last 150 years alone.