Technology has given us opportunities to communicate in ways we could never have imagined. We can achieve instant gratification by using our cell phone in a variety of ways, wether it be by voice, text or FaceTime. You can show someone where you are and what you’re doing at a moments notice. The ways to communicate keep evolving and the time it takes to connect is getting shorter and shorter. I’m sure we will eventually have the ability to access one another through holograms. It feels like we are fast becoming the actors in a science picture film.
My fear is that the ability to communicate faster and faster is also removing the ability to spend actual time with each other. I now receive a myriad of text messages that were once part of a phone call. Are we so busy that picking up the phone is akin to the President being told we are about to be invaded by aliens? Most of us have accommodated ourselves to the new ways to get in touch, but have we thought about what we have given up as a result? The human voice has the ability to impart so many emotions. No amount of smiley faces, little hearts or any other symbols can do that!
This is not a diatribe against progress, but rather the hope that we can find some balance between the new and the old ways of communicating. The holidays are upon us. Christmas is this Thursday and many people will gather to celebrate. Will the cell phones be turned off during dinner unless a friend or family member that couldn’t attend will be calling? If there are kids at the gathering will they be interacting with the adults or will they be texting their friends to gab about what their experiencing? How about the television? Will it be turned off?
Being without the gadgets for the day may allow you to embrace the possibilities of having discussions with individuals in a more meaningful level. Texting makes communication feel like shorthand. I also know that there are some relatives that I would like to simply text even if they were sitting next to me. But if it’s one thing I’ve discovered it’s that I have learned a lot of tolerance and patience talking to someone that made me feel like watching a faucet drip would be more fun. In fact some of the most boring or difficult people I have had to deal with have ended up being characters in some of the books I’ve written.
Perhaps this holiday you can go back in time and simply revisit old fashioned ways of communicating. Listen, respond, be empathic, and see what you might learn. And more importantly give your phone a rest! Happy Holidays!