It just seems wrong that I’m hitting mid-life and its hints of mental decay while social technology is advancing faster than I can reach for my magnifying readers.
The truth is, I’ve become my mother. Twenty-five years ago my brother and I lamely watched as mom kept jamming down the receiver button to answer an incoming call via our new “call waiting” system. She’d inevitably hang up on both calls and ask in frustration for us to stop chortling and start helping.
Today my own kids have mastered my cell phone, changing the ring tone to hip-hop or a high-pitch screech that I’m sure must double as some sort of homing device for small animals. Doesn’t matter, because even when I set the ring tone, I seldom recognize that it’s coming from my own phone.
And when I do, chances are, I can’t find the darn thing. I race through the first floor like a
teen tween who’s hoping for her first call from a boy. For me, it is— a grown one known as my husband — who mutters in frustration as he leaves his message and wonders out loud why we agreed that I should have a cell phone in the first place.
I have no apps, no clip thingy to attach it to my waist band (like I’d want to add anything there), and limited understanding of how to text.
And unlike most of society who sucks up the latest cell phone crazes like Lady Gaga to strange costumes, I’m okay lagging behind. Yes, it’s a little like sitting on the beach with my toes in the water while everyone else is having fun in the deep end. But there’s a lot to be said for this wide quiet strip of sand, where there’s no splashing or background noise, I’m always sure of my footing and things are well…simple.
I could write a lot about what we’re losing as we “gain” in the world of social media, particularly cell phones. Face time, listening skills, patience, letter writing (one grabs a hand-held writing instrument and records their thoughts on a sheet of paper), social and interpersonal politeness, attentiveness, intentional interest.
The rub, of course, is teaching these things to my children who are growing up in eye of the technology storm. How do I convince them that face time will never adequately be replaced by texting? That “reading” someone doesn’t mean interpreting their text symbols via a tiny screen but studying their face and listening to the smallest nuance of their voice? That this is how you know how a friend, or even an acquaintance, is really doing, and it’s worth the small investment.
Besides, shouldn’t my up-and-coming teens experience the same “rites of passage” I did? There’s character building in the “he-said-he’d-call-me-tonight-so-everyone-stay-off-the-phone” drama. And hubby and I don’t want to be cheated out of gleeful parenting moments like “Daddy’s-gonna-answer-the-phone-because-he’d-just-like-to-say-hello-to-this-young-man.”
There’s an ongoing debate whether Jesus would use cell phones or social media to spread His love and truth. I can’t say. But it’s a safe bet that he’d never use lame texting symbols, he wouldn’t text or call while in the presence of others, and if you tapped him on the shoulder, he’d turn the whole thing off and put it away.
And He’d be okay with that because the face in front of Him would surely be His most important contact.