Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Communication: Real or “Phone-y”

Yesterday I bought my 10-year-old his first basic cell phone.  (He would say 10 ½)  I had always said that I would not get him one until he was driving, but apparently I was wrong.  We saw his last year’s teacher (last year as of 4 days ago) at the phone store.  He was so excited to see her, but me…well, I was a little embarrassed that I was buying an ex 4th grader (yet soon to be 5th grader) his own cell phone.  My son goes over to say hello and very excitedly he tells her what we are doing there.  I, without haste, said that my plan had always been to wait until he was driving, but that he was taking two separate unaccompanied airplanes trips this summer…(but it's not like he hasn’t done this before; it’ll be his 3rd time)  She quickly said that it was a good idea and also since he walks or rides his bike the 1 mile to and from school each day.
I’m sure she is right, but I can’t help to think back to me at 10, or even at 10 ½.  I too made my daily 1 ½ mile trek on bike or foot. (Seemed like 3 miles…funny how that works… I think Google maps must be wrong… it had to be 3 miles.)  That trip most always involved stopping to play and catch crawdads in the “concrete creek” or exploring the woods.  It also included at least once a week a stop at Grandma’s house for a brownie.

I know times were different, but there were dangers back then too... not so much from people kidnapping me but more like the bully that used to beat me up (why didn’t I ride the bus when that started?), or there was that time I found a rifle on the side of the road but it wasn’t loaded.  A cell phone would not have helped with safety when I found the rifle and since I chose to continue walking home with my friends and risk getting beaten up instead of riding the bus, my guess is a cell phone would not have helped with the bully either.

I guess times really have changed.  It takes me 20-30 minutes to get home from work and it takes my wife 30-40 minutes.  It only took my parents 2 minutes.  Back then my family communicated around the kitchen table each night and as oddly as it may sound we usually could be found each morning packed in my parent’s bathroom, which I’m sure they just loved.  Now days depending on scheduling our work with kid’s schedules we are lucky to sit down and eat as an entire family 2-3 times a week. 

Times have changed, so to communicate I guess the way in which we do it has to change too… or does it?  I’m okay with tools to help communicate over long distances (like this blog) or for safety reasons and even for convenience, but when technology becomes the norm we loose something important.  The relationships formed when we look at each other face to face can not be substituted.  As we share our lives with each other face to face we are sharing Christ with each other.  Each one of us was created in God’s image and as we grow in relationship with each other we grow in our relationship with God.  It is like the difference between watching TV and seeing people stand hungry in a soup kitchen line verses actually being there to serve them.

Though I don’t want to give up my technology (including my iPhone) I don’t want to get lost in it to the point that humanity and the Divine become lifeless in the digital world.

1 comment:

  1. I hear you brother. I don't blame you for getting your son a cell phone. It helps us keep in touch in this hectic world. Technology is a gift and a curse. I ask myself, if it were not for the technology that helps us communicate in the hectic world, would this world be as hectic.

    Remembering back to when I was a kid about my son's age, twelve (twelve and a half he would say too). I had communication rules too. I could ride my bike all over Sparks and Reno if I called before I left and then called when I got there. We didn't have cell phones, so it was friends phones or payphones. There was usually only one phone at a friends house and it hung on the kitchen wall, was attached by a cord, and had a rotary dial. LOL Not too many of those around any more. Then there was the payphones. You always had to keep dimes in your pockets to call while you were out. I remember when the cost launched from a dime to a quarter per call. I thought my throat had been cut.