A few months ago, I was having a conversation and somehow I stumbled upon this question to ask:
“before people had cell phones, what happened if you cancelled plans? like, did your friend just not show up to dinner and stand you up?”
to which he replied:
“back in the day, you didn’t cancel.”
that’s really stuck with me, and helped me see not only how dependent society has become upon technology, but how it’s affected our social skills. For example, I’ve cancelled certain plans just so that I could go on to others that I wanted to do more. That’s pretty self-serving. Or, I remember when I was dating my ex-girlfriend, we would send so many text messages that we had very little to talk about in person!
Technology serves as a great distraction–from chores, school work, etc. It’s my belief that a lot of it was designed for a good purpose–take a cell phone. Without a cell phone, if I got in a car accident, I wouldn’t have a way of letting anyone know. I can get ahold of friends in a pinch, which is extremely handy. But that has evolved–soon we could send text messages so that we could communicate in a setting in which we couldn’t talk on the phone, but that quickly turned into random, meaningless conversations over the airwaves about a sports game that may better be discussed in detail and with passion in a personal conversation.
Plus, for a guy like me, it’s a handy excuse not to talk to someone over the phone, voice-to-voice, avoiding my fear of not having something to say right away. For me, technology has well facilitated laziness. (I’m not saying that technology is without its perks, having a blog being one of them.)
So I’ve decided to undertake a mission…I want to return to some older-school practices, particularly in the realm of communication. Cut back on texting. If it can wait, then ask the person when I see them, or if it’s important, actually CALL them! I’ve even considered cutting my texting plan to only 1000 messages so that going over will have a personal consequence (and it’ll save me money as long as I don’t.)
For people I don’t see often, I want to start writing letters, particularly, this has come in handy for my grandparents, who don’t use facebook or email and would probably love hearing from one of their grandchildren. Plus, letters force me to have something important to talk about, otherwise I am wasting 45 cents and all of the time it takes to write on a whole lot of nothing.
I’ve even considered deactiviating my Facebook account, just so that I’m forced to communicate more personally, plus I stop wasting so much time doing meaningless things (like waiting on a notification.) So I have a cool thought or idea? Write it in a journal instead of on a status, hoping to get a few “likes” and feel good about myself. If it’s a spiritual idea, put it in a sermon for later.
I have a million books on my shelf, very few of which have been read. I often think of all the time I could spend reading them, instead of staring at them thinking “I wish I had time to read them,” returning my nose to my phone to look at facebook or twitter.
I don’t mean to be negative about all of this, I just feel challenged of late. I’m a little disturbed by communication skills of my generation and the one to come, and I want to raise competent kids when that day comes for me. So this is my first step.