Having grown up in what I now realize was the age of innocence, I can’t help but wonder what if? What if all those electronic devices with which we are now joined at the hip had never become commonplace? What if kids had never discovered video games? What if the only phone was still a family phone hanging from the kitchen wall where everyone else could hear your conversation?
Technology has changed our world, but has it changed for the better?
When I grew up things were simpler. Videos were home movies. Grainy, shaky and oftentimes embarrassing to watch, those 8mm home movies documented time spent as a family at birthday parties, backyard barbecues, holidays. Good wholesome fun and frivolity. Movies that my family still likes to watch for maybe the hundredth time which gives us a renewed sense of family.
Back then we watched TV together as a family because there was only one set in the house and we learned how to get along because we had no choice. We weren’t in separate rooms with our noses buried in an electronic device. We ate together and played together and went to church together. Our friends were all the other kids in the neighborhood who, like us, had been shooed out of the house where we learned to do things with our imagination. Tag, pickup games of baseball, hide and seek and at this time of year, making leaf houses. We were interacting and making friends and learning how to get along.
People talked over back fences and brought hot dishes to those who were struggling or had lost a loved one. We left bikes out in the yard knowing they would still be there in the morning. Car doors and house doors were never locked and if you saw a child crying you never thought twice about pulling them into your arms for a hug.
“Please” was a word learned shortly after mommy and daddy and having to say “thank you” was ingrained in each of us. If you had something bad to say about someone you kept it to yourself because that was the polite thing to do.
We valued people who were honest and kind to everyone – people who worked hard and sacrificed for their family and others.We had a love for country and a pride in being American.
But all that seems to be disappearing and while there could be many causes, it seems to me at least that having our noses in an electronic device for most of the day may be a large part of the reason. Living in an electronic world we seem to forget there are real people with real feelings on the other end of our devices. Remember how it started with emails? Typing in ALL CAPS was seen as yelling and when we could no longer see the body language and emotions on the face of the people we were “communicating” with we seemed to have forgotten that someone living and breathing is on the other end of our communication and those communications are less civil.
Combine that with social media posts that are downright cruel and it’s no wonder people are angry all the time. Every hastily typed response becomes a weapon. Words hurt and when people are hurt they lash out against the person who hurt them and it becomes a never ending cycle with people on both ends of a post feeling intense and lasting emotions.
We are losing the ability to interact face to face, to be diplomatic, to be kind and empathetic. Is social media the cause of it all? Maybe. But when we fail to remember that the hurtful things we post have consequences, our society is diminished and we all suffer for it.
We think we are anonymous when posting comments on social media and all too often we forget our mother’s words… “If you can’t say something nice, say nothing at all.”
So I ask you all to do one thing. Before you hit the send button on your next snarky post, email or text, take a deep breath and consider whether the hurtful comment you are about to make is worth causing another person’s pain. Then delete your post. Your mother would appreciate it.
Have a wonderful day my friends….