Let’s Have a Chat (Face to Face)
I don’t want to comment on the Manti Te’o story directly as I really don’t know what transpired, but it does make me feel really sad. Whether he was completely hoaxed, participated in the hoax fully or simply embellished the story doesn’t matter to me.
What does matter is my concern over what’s happening in our country and probably in the world. I am concerned our young people are forgoing meaningful face-to-face communication, missing out on the wonderful highs and lows of real relationships or simply not having the skills to carry on a conversation.
I am sure that anyone reading this under the age of thirty will say, “relax old man, it’s a new world out here that you just don’t understand.” Actually it would probably be closer to, “Dude, go eat some oatmeal and chill.”
Many of us of a certain age have all driven our kids and their friends somewhere and hear no talking from the backseat as they are furiously texting others or even one another in a language that has evolved to the point us adults have to look for meanings in the Urban dictionary on our own computers.
We watch our kids use social media to make friends and talk in 140 characters or less. I admit I don’t like to text, and not because I am slow at it. It sometimes takes five texts to get an answer to a question and the follow-up questions could take longer if one of the parties steps away from their phone. Texting, Twitter or Facebook are simply tools, good tools, but should not replace actual conversation or relationships.
The internet is wonderful. We can find answers to so many questions. We can learn so much. We can stay in touch with family and friends much easier, especially if they are a fair distance away. But when we replace a real laugh with an LOL or a heartfelt smile with a smiley-face we can and will run into problems.
What is a real relationship? Is it talking on the phone, instant messaging, Face time or Skype? Or is it something deeper? I suggest that we teach are children how to relate to others.
One way is to have them included in our own conversations. Introduce them to other adults, like your own friends and colleagues. Teach them to look into the eyes of those who they are speaking with. Allow them to express themselves to adults in their own way. Often we hear people say, “I don’t understand kids today.” Isn’t it possible that kids don’t understand adults?
Do you allow your kids to express their opinion? Do you include them in your activities? Do you explain the difference between texting and talking and why it’s important to be able to do both?
It’s a given that kids are more social media and technologically savvy than their parents. It’s also a given that the life experiences of a young person are not as rounded as those of us that are more seasoned. Let the kids teach technology, let us teach them how to communicate.
So send a text to our kids today, and tell them it’s time to talk.