Have you ever checked your cell phone after a long period of time, seen that you have no text messages, and then thought to yourself, “Nobody loves me”?
I’d say you probably have (and if you haven’t, you’ve either got really great self-esteem or just get texts nonstop and have no reason to think these thoughts). Why is that? I never thought that before I got a cell phone, but now that I have one, every once in a while the thought does cross my mind: “Why is no one texting me? Does no one want to talk to me? What’s wrong with me?” Of course, the thought never crosses my mind that I should text someone else, so I’m basically doing the same thing that everyone else is doing.
So, why do we go through these moments of feeling like no one loves us? I think technology has made communication so readily available to us that a lack of it seems odd, and as a result we feel disconnected if we’re not always ‘plugged in.’
Whenever I start thinking about the impact technology has on our present society (yes, I am using the generic ‘society’ even though every social/english teacher always said not to use the word in writing because it’s not specific enough), I think back to my summers working at the Ukrainian Village and how simple life seemed to me in those moments. We, the historical interpreters, were thrust back into early, 20th century East-Central Alberta, back when most people in the area lived on farms or small towns and didn’t have electricity or telephones, unless you were very lucky or the main business in town. If you wanted to talk to someone, you had to literally go and visit them. And it happened pretty often. In fact, if you never visited anyone, people probably would start talking about you and say were stingy or had a disease or something like that.
It seems to me a shame that we depend so much on instant communication to build relationships. It seems like it hardly takes any effort at all to text someone or message them through Facebook, or even Skype them. Now, don’t get me wrong. I definitely use all these forms of communication and by this point I am probably addicted to this kind of technology. However, by being so reliant on technology, I think we’re losing the value of older types of communication, such as letters, such as visits. I mean, come on, when do people ever have spontaneous visits anymore? We’re so busy with our ‘go-go-go’ lives that we need to plan to spend time with people weeks or months in advance. Granted, I think part of that lies in allowing stores to be open on Sundays instead of having it a day off for everyone and giving them the opportunity to maybe take the day as a visiting day as it once was. But, I digress.
I was going to say that I think letters should be used more frequently. When was the last time you looked in your mailbox on a regular day (and not during Christmas or Easter or other big holiday) and saw a letter from one of your friends or a member of your family? It’s probably been a long time, if ever. Letters are solid proof that effort went into the communication because the person sending the letter actually wrote it by hand (I’m talking before the computer age). When someone writes a letter, they showcase their personality in the way they dot their ‘i’s and cross their ‘t’s, and it shows they trust you enough with what’s going on in their life and they want you to be a part of it. Whenever I think of letters, I think of my Baba and Dido on my mom’s side. They wrote letters to each other for two years and then one day, my Dido showed up on my Baba’s doorstep and proposed marriage. They were married the next weekend and stayed married for 54 years until my Dido passed away.
I think here lies another point to older forms of communication. I’m not sure how much my Baba and Dido saw each other while they were writing letters, but I’m thinking it wasn’t very much, yet when they got married, it lasted. I think older forms of communication needed a lot of faith to really work, faith that the letters would get there or that someone was home. Now, however, I feel that everyone is so grounded in certainty and faith is thought not to be necessary, when I actually think we need to embrace faith now more than ever. Because we’re always ‘plugged in,’ we have access to a wide range of information, and a lot of that information is not pretty. I read a quote not too long ago that said, “Newscasters always start by saying, ‘Good evening,’ and then proceed to tell you why it isn’t.” It’s not that the world is so much worse than it was in the past; it’s that now we know just how bad the world is as it’s happening, whereas in the past, maybe we wouldn’t find out bad things until weeks or months later and by that point it would be history. Because we know about bad things in our world as they happen, we question the existence of goodness and we’re losing the faith that good things still happen. It’s just that good stories don’t sell as well as bad ones.
I find that to be a huge shame. Do we really want to be scared and angry and depressed all the time? I’m pretty sure the answer is no, but we buy into it day in and day out. So, I guess my challenge is this: if we have all this technology readily available to us, why don’t we use it to our advantage and spread the good things that happen in our lives? Take the time to actually stop and look around you and I’ll bet you can find something to smile about. And maybe in that instant you’ll realize you are loved, and no lack of text messages can take that away from you if you don’t let it.
Phew. Longer than I expected.