Found Out

Bill Abbate

What would life be like without our ability to communicate? Can you imagine how we will communicate later in this century and beyond? Let’s examine this essential part of our lives, where it originated, its use today, and how it might look in the future.


Every living thing communicates with the world around it. In fact, communication is vital to life. Without it, life would not exist.

Communication relies on consciousness and memories. Without them, there would be little to communicate.

While every living thing communicates, only we humans, with our higher order of thinking, communicate to pass on the knowledge that succeeding generations can build on. In turn, the ability to carry this knowledge into the future depends on our ability to communicate well.

Let’s begin by looking at the origin of communication.

Oral tradition

For most of history, communication was only oral. Imagine millennia ago, people sitting around telling stories of things they had heard, their experiences, and passing on historical events. It is believed the tradition of storytelling dates to the beginning of man.

“The human species thinks in metaphors and learns through stories.” Mary Catherine Bateson

The first attempts to record stories for future generations were cave paintings dating back an estimated 44,000 years. Yet, it was not until about 5,000 years ago that written communication came into being. For nearly all of history, written communication was available to very, very few people. Most depended on oral tradition, hence the use of storytelling to retain the memories and to pass them to the next generation.

Today, more than 1 billion people remain illiterate. They, too, must rely on oral communication to pass on their history (unless someone captures it in a recording or writing). You can imagine storytelling’s importance since they have no other form of long-term communication.

Do you remember being taught in school how a simple sentence can change when one person whispers it to the next and so on through the entire class? What the first person whispered almost completely changes by the time it reaches the last person in the chain. This is why stories carry so much power, as they are easier to remember than facts. But it still makes you wonder how much history was miscommunicated or lost in the past.

Stories and DNA

A fascinating thing learned researching the subject of memory and communication is how our very bodies have recorded stories of our past with stunning accuracy. If you search “stories and DNA” on google, you will get more than half a billion results! There are claims DNA contains the story of our ancient past, long before written records existed. These stories include family secrets, unknown heritage, ancestors, traits, and many other things.

Are you ready to be blown away? Check out this quote from an article at

“One gram of DNA can potentially hold up to 455 exabytes of data, according to the New Scientist. For reference: There are one billion gigabytes in [one] exabyte…”

The article further states:

“The cloud computing company EMC estimated that there were 1.8 zettabytes of data in the world in 2011, which means we would need only about 4 grams (about a teaspoon) of DNA to hold [all the data in the world.]”

Don’t you find it amazing that even nature records and communicates the past? While DNA has recorded much information throughout the ages, we had no idea it existed until 1953. Even today, we continue unlocking its secrets.

What will the future hold?

Here we sit at the pinnacle of humanity’s timeline (or so we think). We can write and record our words, videos, memories, thoughts, and stories for future generations. Never in history has it been so simple to put words to paper or keep them digitally. Never in history has it been so easy to document our lives with photographs, sound, and video recordings.

For thousands of years, you could only communicate with someone if they were physically near you and eventually when they could read something you had written. Today, you can instantly communicate with practically anyone worldwide by voice, social media, and video simultaneously! That is a significant change, don’t you think?

Will the words we write and say today, in all their fidelity, become materials for our descendants to use? While some of us can trace our ancestry back a few generations, it can take considerable effort to do so. This task will be far more straightforward in the future.

The information available to upcoming generations will be more detailed, not relying on human memory alone. It will be a far different environment than exists today.

With storytelling having a great deal of significance in communication since the beginning of man, what will become of stories in the future? Will they thrive in their use, cease to be needed, or wind up somewhere between the two extremes? It isn’t easy to imagine a world where humans exist without stories, is it? Stories have always been integral to humanity and its existence, after all.

Final thoughts

Be careful about what you do in life! Your descendants will have far more information on you, and the ability to uncover it will be much easier! It makes you wonder what they will find and think about the life you lived.

Remember what was said by one of the most famous people in history:

“The most reliable way to predict the future is to create it.” Abraham Lincoln (1809–1865)

With the future of communication becoming ever more powerful, you can be sure much of what you do will become known. You only have one opportunity to create a life you can be proud of, so why not make your best effort to leave a legacy that will honor you and your family? You have the power within you to do it if you want!

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Semi-Retired-Leadership/Executive Coach -Personal & Career Growth Expert -Editor and Leadership Writer at Illumination -Author

Richmond, VA

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