Seeing people with their noses buried in their devices is something I’m becoming more aware of in the past year. When my niece visited last year we saw more of her forehead than her eyes. I knew she was in bed from the radiant glow of her device snuggled in beside her. I now work with a number of 20-somethings that seem to be more connected to their device than to their duties at hand. At the risk of sounding my age I fear I might becoming a crank old man!
I have felt for a long time that the younger people in our country just don’t communicate with one another. A recent news piece I heard convinced me that I was wrong. People in general, including the younger generation, are communicating more often and in more detail than ever before via mobile devices. But something still just didn’t feel right to me. That’s when I remembered a quote from psychologist Sherry Turkle:
Technology appeals where we are most vulnerable.
Ever known of someone breaking up a relationship via email or a text message? It’s the 20th-century version of the “Dear John” letter. Did the person who initiated the end of the relationship tell you s/he did it because it was easier for the person being dumped? That’s about as big a lie one could tell.
An action like that has nothing to do with the dumpee and everything to do with the dumper. S/he just didn’t want to deal with the messy fall-out, the tears, the anger, or perhaps pleas to “try just one more time.” S/he didn’t want to feel vulnerable. It wasn’t kind, it wasn’t caring.
Technology can be our best friend, and technology can also be the biggest party pooper of our lives. It interrupts our own story, interrupts our ability to have a thought or a daydream, to imagine something wonderful, because we’re too busy bridging the walk from the cafeteria back to the office on the cell phone. ― Steven Spielberg
Just staying in touch, checking in on Facebook or tweeting out our thought du jour isn’t the same as communicating. Granted, I’ve had deep, meaningful and intensely personal conversations via a messaging app. It doesn’t take the place of face-to-face communication accompanied by human touch. But it can be a good and sometimes life-saving substitute.
I ask you this week to consider how you communicate with others and by what means. Think about this: If you can’t make the time to call someone on the phone or spend quality time with them in person, are you sure that’s a relationship worth having? If it is, perhaps it’s time to re-evaluate how we show it through the ways we communicate that with each other.
In Spirit, Truth and Playfulness,