I have some confessions to make. That will probably come as a surprise to some but it’s true – I have some flaws. At least that is what I am being told by some younger people, especially those directly related to me, like grandchildren.
This is what happened just recently. My lovely wife and I were out to dinner at a quiet, peaceful, little restaurant. We prefer quiet because that allows us to speak to each other without having to yell. In my mind, dinner out should be a calm experience. It doesn’t have to be “fun.” It certainly shouldn’t be loud. If there is background music, it should be barely audible. To me it’s a time to communicate and relieve oneself of the worries of the world.
Four people came into the restaurant and sat beside us. They appeared to be a family of parents and their teenage children. Immediately upon being seated, they all four took out electronic devices and buried their heads in those devices. For the entire time they were in the restaurant they never looked up. Even while ordering their food, they stayed glued to their screens. When their food came, they didn’t look up. All during their meal, they stay tuned into their electronics. I don’t think any one of them spoke a single word during the entire meal. When they had finished, they made their way out of the restaurant still clicking away while walking.
I was amazed. At least they were quiet. They didn’t bother anybody, but I wonder if they even knew what they ate. I wonder if they tasted their food. Of course it’s their business how they spend their time and none of mine.
I mentioned this experience to my own grandchildren as a way of trying to teach the value of direct communication versus electronic communication. They told me, “Grandpa, you just don’t get it. This is the new way. You’re just an old fogie. This is the new communication.”
OK, I confess. I don’t get it. How can that experience even be compared with actually looking into a person’s eyes and talking together? It all seems so impersonal to me. How does one hear the laughter? LOL is not laughter. How does one feel the presence of another when they are connected only by electronic devices? Why would you go to a restaurant and spend money to get expertly prepared food, eat it and never know what it tasted like? It all seems silly to me and I would guess I am not alone.
Is this the direction of the future? Are we to believe interpersonal communication is passe? Do you want me to believe speaking to my wife over some device is the same as holding her hand? Listen, I understand the need for the phone. I understand the need for modern electronics. I get all that, but none of that will ever take the place of person-to-person contact.
Sometimes I truly appreciate the fact I am 73 years old. As Joe Soucheray used to say on his radio program, Garage Logic: “Sometimes I just don’t feel I am made for these times.”
I guess I am an old fogie. I will take holding my wife’s hand over a text message anytime.