Thursday, January 7, 2016

Communication During the Holidays

            Well, the holidays are over, thank goodness, and if you are like me, things are returning to normal. Now it’s time to lie to yourself about a New Year’s resolution. I don’t even waste my time anymore. It always has to do with reducing weight. Between you and me, I’ll do what I can. I promise. I have dropped some weight and I will do what I can do continue the process, but I won’t do something stupid and proclaim to the world a number by a certain date. Done that before. No thanks.

            Let’s talk about the past holiday season. Notice anything? I did. Having a weird sense of humor makes it my job to notice things. Let me say upfront that what I am about to mention has nothing to do with the holidays. Anytime in the past couple of years, possibly longer, this phenomenon has been happening (at least I’ve noticed it) when a group of people, relatives or not, are gathered together in one place.

            Here is what happens. Let’s see if it happens to you. Two days after Christmas, we had around 20 gathered at my parents’ house for a few hours. Everyone brought a dish and we had a good time, celebrating both Christmas and my parents’ 62nd wedding anniversary. They have a large living room and dining room next to each other where everyone could see each other and talk. I assumed my normal position on the floor because it is comfortable for me and easier to engage in conversation.

            I observed after not too long the room getting quieter and people, instead of talking to each other, looking at their phones or other electronic devices. I mean, really? My phone was on the coffee table. Everybody I wanted to talk to was pretty much in that room. What in the world were they doing? Posting on Face Book that they were all together at a family gathering? You know who was going to read it? The other people in the room.

            Lana recently retired but we were invited to go to the annual Christmas dinner at a very nice restaurant. There were 14 of us. At one point I was sipping my cocktail and looked around the table and counted 10 of the 14 on their phones. I left mine in the car. There was nobody I needed to talk to on that night. I leaned over to Lana. She had her phone with her. I asked her to text one of the other people and ask them who in the world they were texting or what they were doing? The person got the text, looked over, smiling. That started a texting conversation across the table. I felt like I was I was in homeroom back in Jr. High passing notes around. “Do you think Judy likes me? Circle yes or no.”

            I remember watching a movie a while back. I don’t remember the name of it. Some guy hosted a party at his house. He had a wicker basket just inside his front door. He made everyone put their phone in the basket when they entered the house. I like that idea. It makes people actually talk to each other. I think we have lost the ability or the skill to talk to communicate in person to each other. We would rather get on FaceBook or Instagram or Twitter or call up a football game on our phone than ask each other about our lives. Sad.

            Is it any wonder that there is so much violence out there? Do you think I am overreaching? Really? If we don’t communicate with each other as adults, are we communicating and teaching our children? Are we teaching them as we were taught or are they buried in electronics? Do we find ourselves one day getting a call from someone we don’t know in an emergency and we mouth the words, “My Johnny or my Susie would never do that!” They would if we aren’t around to parent. They would if we have lost the ability to communicate. There are times when I’m not so sure technology is all that good for us.
            I have always defined a friend as a person who, when there is bad stuff going on in your life and people are walking OUT the door, a friend is the person walking IN the door. Because of poorer communication skills, are we making it more difficult to make and keep friends and to be there for each other? Do we care?

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