Humanity in a Techy World

The world sure has changed just over the last twenty years – the way we interact with a quick text or a short email, etc.  Blogging has exploded … which is why you’re reading this.

In general, the way we interact with one another on a daily basis has drastically changed.  The method in which we give and receive news has been forever altered. There are positives and negatives to this transformation.

But the point to this post is that with so much technology at our fingertips 24 hours a day, we run the risk of losing our humanity.  We run the risk of de-humanizing our existence and the existence of those around us or even those half way across the world.

Drivers often behave in an aggressive or unthoughtful manner when they wouldn’t be as quick to engage in such risky behavior if there was not a shield of metal in between them and their fellow travelers.  They have a buffer of glass and metal.  In the same way, we have a buffer of technology in between the writer and the audience.

I think this is the reason (to a degree) the vitriol and level of hatred has escalated in our media and is evidenced in our usage of social media.

We have forgotten our audience.  We have forgotten the hard working man on the receiving end of our callous words.  We have forgotten the mom who is doing the best she can.  The dads, brothers, moms, sisters, etc.  The people.  They are just people.  Like you.  Like me.

Sometimes I think it’s important to take a step back and unplug for a moment.  Go look someone in the eye while discussing current events over lunch.   Plan a family dinner where no one is constantly checking their phones, but instead shares inside, family jokes.  Reconnecting with humanity will help to preserve our human condition and serves to also preserve some decorum.

Before you fire off that text, email, post, tweet or blog … Remember your audience.

They may not be who you think they are.

They may be just like you.

They may be you.

Stewards of Time

Did you know that in a lifetime, the average American will sit at a stop light for six months?  Eight months opening junk mail?  One year looking for misplaced objects?  Two years unsuccessfully returning phone calls and five years waiting in line?

These figures seem impossible to fully comprehend, but somewhere in a sterile cubicle, a statistician has reduced our lives to such peculiar numbers.  If they don’t offer one the opportunity for pause, I’m not sure what will.  Seeing my life in these terms definitely makes me reassess my priorities.

The reality for each of us is, we don’t have nearly as much time on this earth as we originally thought.  We just get complacent that somehow time will stand still for us and that we’ll always have tomorrow to do things, when that is not necessarily the case.  Each of us are allotted a certain number of days and then our lives here on earth will be completed.  What we do in the meantime is up to us.

What will we do with that time?

It is incredibly amazing to me the amount of time people spend watching television, movies, playing video games, etc.  Of course, there is a time and a place for R & R.  Yes, there is.  But, not at the price of neglecting relationships, housework, and other priorities, etc.  And add to our obsession list, the advent of smart phones and we run the further risk of becoming a true ostrich.  What is one to do?

Psalm 90:12 says, “So teach us to number our days that we may have a wise heart.”

I think periodically it’s a good idea to reassess how we are spending our free time.  I am a stay-at-home mom but for those who work outside the home, we are targeting the time you have on your hands after you clock out.  For me, my work never ends as I have two teenagers, am married and care for an elderly father at home.  I still have a few moments to call my own.  So what do we do with those?

Are we using our time wisely?  What if we knew we only had a certain number of years remaining in our life cycle?  Would we skip vegging on YouTube or Facebook a bit more?  Would we reach out and call our loved ones on the telephone or even better, visit them in person more?  Texting is lovely but it can never replace our humanity.

Pause is necessary in our crazy busy culture.  What do you hope to achieve in your lifetime?  What kind of person do you hope others remember you being?  Are you that person?  If not, what steps can you take toward becoming that person?

With technology ever in the forefront of our lives, down time is increasingly important for reflection.  Take a walk in your neighborhood or by the lake or on the beach.  Breath in fresh air.  They say when we get out in nature, it has a relaxing effect.  I think we all need more of that in our fast paced society.

Here’s hoping you’ll be a wise steward of your days.

They say no man on his deathbed ever wished they’d spent more time at the office.  No, they often say they wished they spent more time with their family.  Maybe it’s time for a pause, a time of reflection to review priorities.

We are all given the same 24 hours in a day.  It’s how we spend it that is up to us.


The Dying Art of the Written Note

We sent out probably around fifty Christmas cards this year, a few less than previous years.  We’ve received somewhere around fifteen cards, which are taped to our mantle as a festive decoration.  There’s something so joyful about getting a personal note in the mail, isn’t there?

As our society has delved deeper into the cyber world, one of its casualties seems to be the art of sending a personal note.  Many find it very acceptable to send a brief text or email, not even a phone call as a means of expressing gratitude or congratulations, etc.  While this certainly is a nice gesture and a small time expense, it cannot replace the personal touch of hearing someone’s voice or receiving a handwritten note.

A written correspondence lasts for years and years, while texts and emails have a limited shelf life.  I have some old cards and letters from thirty years ago!  I cherish reading through them from time to time.  They remind me of those family and friends that may have passed on and the love we shared.  That is something I value.

I owe my great aunt a great deal when it comes to my affection for letter writing.  She would often write her sister (my grandmother) who lived with us when I was growing up.  When she became unable to compose letters for herself, I would ask my grandmother what she would like to say and I would write them out for her.  She was fifteen years older than my great aunt.  They enjoyed sharing the news of various friends and the happenings of their church.  As the years passed, I took over writing the exchange of letters and they were simply from me, sharing what was happening at school and within our family.  I always looked forward to that letter addressed to me with great anticipation!  As an adult, letters still excite me!  There’s nothing less fulfilling than receiving a card with just a signature.  Write something!  What’s going on in your world?  People love details!  Tell them all about it!

Each year we enclose a family newsletter with our Christmas cards and a few years ago, I just decided not to send one out, thinking, first of all, it was too much effort.  Secondly, that perhaps that the letter didn’t matter much.  After that, I had many family members say how much they looked forward to our newsletter each year and they missed reading it!  Lesson learned.  Everyone enjoys receiving news from loved ones far and near.

I think it’s one of the greatest arts we can teach our children and those around us.  Letter writing may be a dying art but not one beyond exhumation.  Sending a note is like putting a stamp on love and affection and giving it away.  Its effects cannot be underestimated for you never know how much it will mean to the recipient.

Why not drop someone you love or admire a note today?

Even if you’re not the best speller or possess the most artistic handwriting, anyone can compose a nice note.  No intricate internet code can ever replace the human touch, the human voice and the handwritten note.  No man was ever designed to be an island to himself.  Reach out.  Let someone know they’ve made a difference in your life or choose to make a difference in someone else’s life.

Here’s to more personal letters, notes and cards in 2017!

What say you?