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Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Technology and Today

Stan went to a meeting at the boys' high school the other night. It was run by the high school athletic director. During this meeting the AD explained how he expects parents and players to resolve problems with coaches, each other or the athletic director himself. If you have a beef with someone, he said, don't text or send an email, talk to them face to face or make a phone call. Texts and emails, the AD said, have a funny way of sounding "off" or being taken the wrong way. Talking face to face or on the phone prevents many ways things can be misconstrued. When you have personal contact with another person you can read their signals and their body language. Something said in an email may come across as snarky or mean but face to face it is humorous. In a text or email you are also able to hide a bit and it shows a little cowardice, according to the athletic director. Losing the face to face contact is having consequences in our society. The meeting at the high school highlights how we have grounds to be a bit disconcerted.

I am seeing consequences of a texting generation here at home. And it is disconcerting. Lucas has a girlfriend now. He texted her to find out if she liked him. YES, texted! When she said "yes" via text he responded with yet another text and another and another until they were "boyfriend" and "girlfriend." Call me crazy, but I think texting to get a girlfriend is INSANE! Here is where I am going to sound like my mother---in MY day a boy called a girl or talked to her at school to find out if she liked him. There were the little notes passed back and forth. Which is kind of like a text, I guess, but the note was passed to a REAL person and then handed to another REAL person! Girls were giggling. Boys were smiling. You saw the object of your affection. Sometimes the notes were intercepted by the teacher or an unintended recipient but for the most part it was a good way to figure things out. The notes were simple and charming "Do you like me? Check yes or no." They were a keepsake. You could hold onto them. You can't hold on to text messages. Don't get me wrong, I love my technology and texting is an easy fix for when you only have a quick second and don't want to get into a 20 minute conversation but need to know if someone can pick up your son or daughter. Texts shouldn't be meant to take the place of true conversation just speed it up - SOMETIMES! But not for the big stuff---asking someone out should be done in person, face to face or on the phone, sweaty palms, pounding heart and all! The consequences of substituting texts for human contact are here.

From what I understand the adult dating world has gone the way of texting as well. So it's not just Lucas who is trolling for girlfriends via text message. I wouldn't do well in the dating scene. I can't imagine having a fight via text message or email. I like a good ol' fashioned, face to face resolution when we have a disagreement. Making up is so much better when you say "I'm sorry" face to face. I also can't imagine sending my undying love thoughts through a text message. It's out there in cyberworld not whispered sweetly in my love's ear. How unromantic and uncharming! It would not be a good scene for me.

We do have the power to change the consequences though. I am glad the Athletic Director took a stand and told parents and players alike exactly how to communicate. I need to do the same with Lucas. I need to teach all of my kids that nothing beats personal contact, nothing takes the place of hearing the voice of someone special and nothing is better than seeing the sweet smile of someone you love. I will teach them and teach them and teach them so they will always know to pick up the phone when they want to be reminded of my love for them...

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