Craig Shoemaker

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The Winter of Our Disconnect

BlogErin KelleyComment

Disconnected: [dis-kuh-nek-tid]

adjective. (of a person) lacking contact with reality.

Ironic that as our “high speed connection” increases with technological advances that our “human” connection has decreased at the same rate.

One thing that drives me nuts (or into the rear end of another car) is how many of my friends correspond by text message, rather than return a simple phone call. I think most of the current overuse of texting is pretty much a passive-aggressive way of saying: “I really don’t want to discuss anything or get your feedback. This is the accepted way of expressing that I have no time for your opinions or feelings. I’m spending most of my personal hours catching up with Instagram, Twittering and Facebook status updates of people I’ve never actually met in person. I’m on a relationship upgrade and you, my old pal, are Windows ’98” to me.” 

Can you really read tone or nuance from an abbreviated message on a tiny screen? And what about the mis-spells? I once texted an old (female) friend I hadn’t seen in years -- “Hear yur in Boston. Wanna do Sex tonight?” I was trying to ask about attending a Red Sox game. Five months later, still haven’t heard from her.

We search for more “friends” on social networks we don’t really know, and therefore ceasing further development of the sterling, sustained friendships we already have in place. It’s like taking money investments and moving to another bank before the cash can accrue interest. This new system of communication sends a confusing message to our kids too. I mean, how much can a child learn when parents have to keep the imparted sage wisdom to 140 characters?  

As it is now, I can’t see how any great authors will come out of this era. Imagine classics being written today?

“It was the best of times… #poor #great #expect #CDickens

Laughter is key to our development, but where will the art of story telling go if we keep dumbing down our language skills? Standup comics will be performing 20-second sets for angst-ridden crowds of young Cubicons, who risk a night out of their comfy workspace to check out their fav hot comic HenYoung, who has 700k followers, based on his patented one liners and catch phase, “Hey, take my strife, please.” No one in the audience knows what HY looks like, since their heads never bother to peer up from the glow of their I-Phone. The club patrons won’t even need to get up to use the bathroom and risk human interaction, since the invention of the PeeAPP had its patent approved.

Our natural brain function is not being engaged, since there is now a dependence on machines to do our research for us.

One thing I have always prided myself on is a keen memory, much to the chagrin of some friends I know, who would prefer to forget some past discretions! I’m that guy reminding a buddy of a drunken tale he’d rather not have his son hear, recounting detailed stories of our days in high school, when life was carefree and without boundaries, including some stupid little law about a “drinking age.”

When engaged and inspired, the mind connects with the creative source within our extraordinary souls, thus a unique self unfolds and presents itself to the world. When interpersonally linked beyond a screen it is exhilarating. That’s life. An essence, a presence. It unfurls with unlimited personal potential, while much of the world tries to assimilate into someone else’s “norm.”

Not to sound like an old curmudgeon (which I do to my teenaged son), but I truly believe that we have gone too far in developing shortcuts, easy ways through obstacles. Our kids even Google “cheats” to beat dad in a video game! If we allow tech weenies in a Silicon Valley office guide our fate, how much are we going to figure things out ourselves? I enjoy testing my mind about trivia queries such as, “What film character was played by two different actors, that led to Academy Awards for both? 

Now, how many of you ran to chosen search engine for the answer? We seem to think there are benefits to getting things quicker, forgetting how important it is to exercise our brain muscle and examine our spirits. If we’re at the gym, we wouldn’t say, “I don’t need a spotter, thank you. I brought a personal valet to lift the weights for me.  In a few weeks, I will have those biceps I’ve always dreamt of showing off!”  

Right now, an I.T. team in India is building your body for you.

I am concerned about the next generation. With adults doing all the labor for the developing youth, doling out rewards such as “participation trophies” simply for being on the team, how will we evolve as human beings?  

I can envision a job interview when the child grows up and enters the work force. Imagine the shock and confusion when a prospective employer says they are not hiring this oft-coddled kid.  

“What do you MEAN, I am not what you’re looking for? MOM?! Tell him how I’m your hero. What do I do now? Can I keep this company coffee cup for participating in the interview?”

The truth is, we have to allow our fawns to stumble so they can learn how to get up and walk. Experience, not an app, is our greatest teacher.

You know what teaches a lesson more than any parenting book? A SCAR! My mom must’ve told me a thousand times not to play near the stove. You know what convinced me she was right? Playing near the stove. The burn mark I have on my hand is my permanent Post-It-Note. “Reminder – Do NOT fart around in the kitchen!” Buying holiday gifts for me is easy. Two words: Oven mitts.

Let’s agree to slow things up a bit. Take a pause before rushing to press, “send” on an email. Better yet, how ‘bout you re-experience that horrible taste of a postage stamp, and actually walk with your sedentary, overweight kids to a mailbox and send a hand written letter on actual paper to someone special? If you don’t remember, it is called a “Pen Pal,” not a “Snap Chat.” And if your pen breaks, you don’t have to stand in line at a tech store, hoping the warranty is still good on your Bic Ball Point.

Receiving a hand written note in the mail is so meaningful and impactful. It is tactile, not only can you touch it physically, but also sends signals to our heart. I still have stacks of old letters from as far back as a vacation postcard from grand mom, who brought this little boy’s fanciful and emerging imagination to a previously unknown place outside the confines of our neighborhood – Delray Beach Florida. Approximately 20 words written to her grandson in her recognizable cursive, said more to me than reading a year of someone’s status updates. I cherish her memory and hold those recollections in a treasure box.

Communion, communication, community. Let’s commit more to the essentials. Relate, instead of reboot. Look into one another’s eyes, the window to the soul, not the impersonal hyperlink to a page that gives a peak into a speck of who someone truly is.

Let’s speak to one another, using our idiosyncratic voice, a vibration reaching well beyond tap dancing a quick thumb message on a tiny keyboard. How bout a REAL happy face from an in person live laugh, replacing that new emoticon you just discovered?? Truly let out genuine “LOLs,” in lieu of writing it on someone’s Facebook status. I mean, are you actually rolling on the floor laughing as you see pictures of cats with Hitler mustaches? Ok, those are a little funny, but gasping for breath from hearty laughing only takes place with other people sharing the experience with you. Or, when your spouse trips and falls. 

Now, how many made it this far? You’re over 900 words in. I congratulate you! Don’t have a special trophy for you though, however, for your patience there is a reward - the answer to the trivia question. 

Marlon Brando and Robert DeNiro both played the character “Vito Corleone” in “The Godfather,” winning them both Oscars.

Now, pose that trivia question at your dinner table verbally, leaving your thumbs for more important bonding with the children – thumb wrestling!

Cheers!

~ Craig

 

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