Information races around the world in seconds with new technology, but it often lacks human warmth.
From our cars, home or office we can dial up spouses or business contacts on the wireless telephones to arrange meals or make deals. Computers allow us to shoot messages and images across vast distances in quick time. Every year brings a new array of electronic gadgets that people carry in their pockets to stay in touch with the rest of the connected world.
In this rush to embrace modern wonders, common sense, courtesy and good taste often lag behind the technology. We all encounter drivers who chatter in their little phones while not paying attention to the road and other vehicles around them, thereby putting everyone on the highway at risk. It is always fun to check e-mails and get bombed with a barrage of junk mail, much of it insulting in nature, that clutters up the screen with shady offers of dubious products and services.
By the same token, you can use the Internet as a digital encyclopedia to find answers to life’s great mysteries, such as where the fish are biting at the coast. People use Web sites to promote all manner of good and bad works. A cruise through Google-land can lead to Christian pages or hard-core pornography sites with a great diversity of content in between.
Sometimes, these gadgets become digital hiding places where people can retreat inside and not have to deal with the real world. Some people prefer to spend hours playing games on screens rather than dealing with real players on the neighborhood basketball court.
It is a bold new age, but along the way we may be losing some of the human touch that makes communication enjoyable. Yes, it is nice to watch the latest country music video on the telephone, in between checking stock quotes and the news of the day. Soldiers at war can e-mail families who wait at home, a vast improvement over waiting weeks for precious letters to arrive.
Somehow, it is just not the same as sitting down in a cafe with a friend to share news and stories about our little piece of the world. All of the e-mails in the world can never replace one hug from a child who has been away from home for too long.
While talking in person you can tune in to the nuances of body language and facial expressions, which are often more honest than words. A certain energy exchange takes place when people meet to communicate that does not translate over an electronic device. Imagine trying to hold a loved one’s hand through a computer screen.
Myself, I have to take digital free days to reconnect with the human race. I like to sit around tackle shops and listen to wild tales while gathering the latest fishing information. It is fun to take the dog for a walk in the park and watch Emmie strike up friendships with other canines on the trail. People who walk dogs tend to be friendly in most cases.
The big thing for me is to get out of the car and walk. Along the way I take time to speak to people without being pushy or intrusive. Around here older people seem to be better at this. Younger folks tend to be more skilled with new devices than guys my age so I always try to learn from them when I can.
Only one thing is certain in this digital age; the hottest product today will be obsolete in a year or two to be replaced with something new and better. People can use these tools for good or ill, but real communications and good manners will never go out of style.
— Walter Taylor is staff writer with the Bladen Journal. He can be reached by calling 862-4163.