Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Don't Talk to Me; I'm Busy Communicating

“You mean I have to talk to them face-to-face?”

Such was the lament of a college student who recently discovered there is more to getting a job than sending out resumes through and waiting for offers to roll in.  This young man was aghast that he had to go to an office and submit to an interview – in person.  Yikes.

The hot thing right now is social networking. Like all technological advances, it has its good and not-so-good points.  The good is found in expanded business opportunities, renewed acquaintanceships, more contact with family members, and the ability to share our lives with others, often people who are separated from us by many miles.  Among the not-so-good points are the inability to read body language or facial expressions and hear vocal inflection. Social skills suffer as people no longer know how to dress appropriately or behave while dining. Those consumed by social networking may be unable to establish priorities and might even endanger themselves and others.  There have been plenty of stories about all these issues.

As I drove home the other day, I observed a mother and her two children out for a walk.  It was a beautiful afternoon with temps in the mid-70’s and hardly a cloud in the sky. What struck me was that all three were holding cell phones, their thumbs flying across the keys.  This mother and her children had no relationship to one another other than their physical proximity. 

This reminds me of the commercials currently running for the Toyota Venza.  (See one of them here:  Obviously I am not the only person to notice the strange trend in which mechanized contact is preferable to any other form.

Don’t get me wrong.  I love technology. However, I am concerned with the loss of so many necessary skills.  Parents teach children.  If parents aren’t teaching their children, their children cannot teach their children.  Everyone will know how to use a keyboard but will they remember how to speak?  Seem a little farfetched?  Maybe, maybe not.

One thing’s for sure – it will be difficult to solve our problems if we are so busy communicating that we forget to how to have a conversation.

Friday, September 2, 2011

9/11 Memorial Police Car Misses the Point

The tenth anniversary of the attacks of September 11, 2001 is almost upon us.  There will be much focus on that awful day with multiple tributes and retrospectives.  Locally, it began nearly six months ago when, in May, a suburb unveiled its 9/11 squad car (  The burning twin towers are on its hood, an American flag represented on its doors.

What are we saying when we spend thousands on a special squad car that lists the names of the dead and nothing on the affected human beings who are still with us and need our help?  What about the families of those who were killed? What about the survivors who are disabled or jobless?  What about the thousands of wounded soldiers returning home from a war that began on 9/11?  

September 11, 2001 was dreadful.  Like Pearl Harbor for the generations before us, 9/11 influences how we perceive and respond to the world around us. 

Nearly ten years have passed since that day.  What happens this year on that date will say much about who we are as individuals and as a country.  Will we focus on the loss or the gain?  Will those who died on 9/11 be proud of us or embarrassed by us?  How would they feel about what we say, think, and do all these years later?

The Discovery Channel recently aired a program about rebuilding at Ground Zero. One of the commercials urged me to donate funds to first responder charities. I couldn’t help thinking about all the money being spent on memorials around the country and wondering if those funds could be better used by the people most impacted by the attacks.

I fully support commemorating those who lost their lives on September 11. May the memorials and monuments do them justice.  As you watch the programs or read articles about that day, give some thought to what is being said.  Are we honoring the living or just the dead?

It’s about communicating.  Does a painted squad car send the right message?