Beliefnet
Your Morning Cup of Inspiration

Today, I hosted a flute and violin quartet practice at my house.  The flutists – myself and my daughter – were joined my friend and her daughter – both violinists.  It was a wonderful morning of making music.  What strikes me most about mornings like this one, or when my husband and I host barbecues, or when we go to church on Sunday morning is that I feel so alive.  I spend so much of my time on a computer and interacting with others via email and text that when I get together with other human beings, it is almost exhilarating.

Now I don’t think that communicating electronically is necessarily a bad thing.  I am introverted enough that too much human interaction is exhausting for me.  I need breaks from people.  So being able to balance face-to-face interaction with more distanced emails is my cup of tea.

The problem, however, is that today’s online communication isn’t always for the purpose of interaction.  For example, let’s say that I send you a text or an email.  That is my attempt to interact with you.  It is basically like writing a letter.  However, what if I post a picture on Facebook or send a tweet?  Am I really trying to interact with anyone?  Not really.  Then I am basically engaging in a one-sided conversation in which I am saying to the world “Look at me!” in the manner that small children say to their mothers when they want their attention.  And then I seek validation in the form of “likes” or positive comments.

These days we are completely enamored with one-sided communication, whether it be through Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.  In fact, we are so enamored that you can’t be a writer, run a business or be a politician unless you have a “presence” with one or all of them.  And we waste a ton of time with it.  And while we are wasting our time, we are missing out on real interaction, like talking to our friends and families, or doing quality activities, like reading books or spending time quietly reflecting.

So how do we “keep it real” when our world now functions largely electronically?  In my opinion, those of us above a certain age (think those of us who grew up with typewriters) should just say, “Screw it.”  We can’t change the world or the future of western civilization, but as long as we are breathing, we can live life on our terms.  And our terms can be a complete rejection of those aspects of modern technology that don’t improve our lives or our relationships.

We can accept the fact that some things are better when said in person.  My husband ends his texts to me with “I love you,” but it makes my heart go pitter patter when he tells me that face-to-face.  We also can realize that just because we can access the news 24/7, that doesn’t mean that we in fact need to do so.  And even though we can get every book on Kindle, that doesn’t mean that we should forgo the pleasure of browsing at the library and bookstore.

Most importantly, instead of forever looking at a screen at what other people are doing, we need to do things ourselves.  We should write, create art, make music, and be outside in nature.  We should read (books!), think and come to our own conclusions about political issues, instead of being spoon fed opinions by our favorite news outlet.

A final thought: one of my mother’s friends, an 87-year-old gentleman, recently passed along to me a couple of pages of his autobiography.  He wrote about his experiences growing up during the Depression.  His writing wasn’t in the form of a tweet.  And believe it or not, it didn’t include any selfies.  Nevertheless, it was fascinating and far more interesting than anything I have seen on the Internet this year.

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