I came across this evocative phrase in an article in The New Yorker. What a magazine – another discovery in Chicago (I shall have to put a year’s subscription on my Christmas wish list!!). A Japanese writer reflects on our modern world and the multiple ways that we keep in touch. He suggests that there is a tyranny to our endless availability at the end of a mobile phone or e mail. I am told by my teenage nephew that school children don’t talk to each other any more they text – and Facebook is the way of keeping in touch.
Now – hold on – I am not hoping to become a star in the programme ‘Grumpy Old Men’ (less of the old please) but the phrase is compelling and deserves our attention. Technology is both blessing and burden – I think we underestimate its drawbacks.
We need time – surely to listen to each other – and to look at each other – our faces and gestures as part of the reading and understanding of each other. So often the expressions that we use that accompany that question or sharp reply help us to appreciate one another. Failing to understand one another is a daily part of all our lives. A couple of minutes sending an email or text might save time but that is no substitute for human contact and connection.
This sabbatical time has left me wondering about the pace and shape of these connections. I have beem glad to have been liberated from emails (that wont last) and my mobile Orange network would not work in America (there is a God) – all this gave space to dig a little deeper. Space to think about people and make connections in other kinds of ways. It gave me time to pray for friends and colleagues – and a new resolve to work harder at communication.
During this time my preferred means of connectivity has been the humble postcard. Buying them is great fun and scribbling fragments of news even better. The wander to the post office and attaching those stamps completes the process!! It gave me a chance to connect and perhaps say some things that I am often too busy to say.
Thank goodness for the postcard and the blessing of well chosen words!
Will it last? Lets see. Must go – I have a text message!!!