Thursday, March 22, 2012

Life is changing

The other day I read an email from someone who kind of put some things into perspective for me.  It was about "social media" and how it is changing us and how we communicate.  It got me to thinking, "so how has it changed me?"

It's kind of funny when I think about it.  I've been a computer geek since way back.  Way back as in a 10 meg hard drive and a monochrome monitor way back.  Ahh, the good ole DOS days...but I digress.  But even back then, I was finding bulletin boards where you could log on, read some posts, write some posts, etc.  It was pre-Internet days.  Now I find myself on Facebook, listening to something called Pandora with REO Speedwagon playing in ears.  So how has it affected me?

Well, for starters, it has helped me reconnect with old friends and relatives.  It also keeps me connected with friends and relatives.  For that I am grateful for Facebook.  It has also provided an outlet for me.  I never kept a diary or journal in my life previous to Facebook, but I have found that this is one venue where I can simply just write what I am thinking.  Some people will read it while others will never know that it's here, and that's OK with me.  I write these notes as a method of therapy.  Facebook also led me to start a blog of my own.

On the flip side, the Internet and technology has a dark side.  In a sense, there is a loss of communication.  Or perhaps a better definition would be a loss of communication skills.  The younger crowd, you know who you are, are truly missing out on some things us older folks had.  Anticipation for one thing.  Patience for another.  Mostly I think we are losing that ability to truly communicate.  Oh, we can carry on a conversation to a degree, but how many times recently have you been able to talk to someone under 25 without being interrupted by a beep or buzz of a cell phone?

I can recall years back when I was going to be getting a phone call and I would race home to wait by the phone, waiting for it to ring.  At the same time hoping nobody would use the phone, because call waiting didn't exist!  If someone was using the phone, the caller would get...a busy signal!!  Really, when was the last time you got a busy signal?  It used to be a norm, now you look at the phone with wonder and amazement when you get a busy signal.  Now we have instant messaging.  Instant.  Shoot, I've heard of some people having a fit because someone didn't respond to their text fast enough.  They had to wait like, 5 minutes?  I suppose it's how things change.  People like my grandparents wrote letters to communicate because they didn't have a phone on the farm until the 50's.

It's a little funny.  A few months ago, Julie and I went out to dinner by ourselves.  Nothing fancy, just a little sit down joint for some Italian.  While we were there, a young couple was seated across the aisle from us.  They were sitting there for about 5 minutes when both of them, still talking to each other, took out their phones and started texting.  What I found fascinating was that they both kept conversing, albeit a bit interrupted, and texting at the same time.  Julie and I both noticed how they would talk a little, then look back down at their phone and tap away.  I couldn't help but wonder, just how much are they really involved in their conversation?  With each other OR with the person on the other end of the phone!

I wonder where we'll be in another 50 years.  Will we even talk face to face anymore?  Sure, that may be a bit far fetched, but think about 1960.  In 1960, who would have thought that you would be carrying around something that fits in your pocket, yet can perform functions that had not even been dreamed up in 1960!  In 1960, most radios still used something called a vacuum tube and were rather large.  Had you told someone in 1960 that someday they would have something that they could easily carry around that would play music, take pictures, play games, record audio and video, make computations, make phone calls and communicate with people around the world, they would have likely said you were nuts.  But the reality is, it happened.  A mere 50 years ago, very few people had a color TV.  Very few had more than 1 car.  50 years may seem a ways off, but it's not really that far off.

So I sit here and think about the Internet and social media and all it's wonders and abilities and what do I end up thinking about?  Conversations with my dad.  I miss his wisdom.  I miss his ability to always have the right words to say.  If I was feeling down, I could call my dad and somehow, someway by the time I hung up, things were OK again.  Now that he's no longer gracing us with his presence, I try to remember the things he did say to me while he was here.  I try to remember his encouraging words that always seemed to be spot on target.  I try to remember what he taught me.  To rely on God, not on man.

1 The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need.  2 He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams.  3 He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name.  4 Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me.  Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me.  5 You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies. You honor me by anointing my head with oil.  My cup overflows with blessings. 6 Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the Lord forever.  Psalm 23

I try to remember this, it's just that some days are harder than others.  I miss the talks.  I miss the advice.  I really try not to dwell on it, but he was a big part of my life.  All the wonders of technology can't replace this.  I look at my life now and hope that he'd be approve.  God knows I've not been perfect.  I also hope that someday I can be that rock that he was.  I'm working on it, but it's taking longer that I would like.

Life is changing.  I hope for the better, and I hope that I will be a better person as well.

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