January 16, 2015
It is a sad reality that over these past few decades, a number of things that were once considered quite ordinary have become lost art forms: face-to-face conversations, hand-written letters and notes, family dinners, hugging our children, simplicity, and contentedness to name a few.
I don’t consider myself a cranky old man who sits around lamenting the good ol’ days. I appreciate the many conveniences that modern life has to offer. These modern conveniences, however, should not replace personal contact with other human beings. Not sure what I mean? See your two kids over there on the couch, busy texting on their cell phones? Well, they’re texting each other. That’s what I mean.
We text one another instead of having conversations. We e-mail instead of delivering a hand-written note. We eat in separate rooms and we fist-bump instead of hugging. A student recently shared a wonderful compliment with me about one of our teachers. My first thought was, “I should send her an e-mail and tell her what the student said.” But I caught myself and thought, “No, I will tell her face-to-face.” And because I did, I connected with her in a real way and was able to see the tears well up in her eyes and feel her joy. Not virtual tears or e-joy, but real tears and real joy.
Nor should these modern conveniences create in us a constant desire for the “next best thing.” I am reminded of a 90’s comedian who described his trip to the appliance store to purchase a new microwave. The salesman showed him the newest model and raved about all of its features. He then asked the customer how long it takes his current microwave to heat up a bowl of soup. The customer answered, “Thirty seconds,” to which the salesman replied incredulously, “Thirty seconds! Who has that kind of time?!”
A few years back, I felt like a Neanderthal when I went to Verizon to get a new phone. I told them I just wanted to use it to make phone calls – not send e-mails, not text, not take pictures, not buzz me every time the Colts score, not do my taxes. Just make phone calls. What happened to simplicity? What happened to contentedness? When did the desire for the next best thing become a need?
I think it may be time to re-connect with other human beings. Perhaps we should engage our spouses and children in conversation over dinner and go back to hugging. Maybe we should spend time in prayer, grateful for and content with the many blessings in our lives.
You say you can’t afford to take that kind of time? You can’t afford not to.