“How do you do that?”  My kids ask me that periodically when I end up talking to a complete stranger in the checkout line at the grocery store or on an elevator.  They seem to marvel that I can not only start up conversation but that I have a desire to do it.

It got me to thinking about communication and what I see as the sad state of affairs afflicting our culture to date. It seems we spend a lot of time looking at the tops of each other’s heads as we all type away on our mobile devices.  What happened to conversation?

The next time you are in a public place, look around and see how many people are talking to each other versus how many have their noses planted in their phones.  When you really look around and do this, you might find yourself shocked?

Well, before you stop reading and call me a fuddy-duddy old man who needs to get a grip on contemporary culture, think again.  What implications does this have?

When you go into a place of business, don’t you like a little relationship-building conversation?  Don’t you like it when someone asks how you’re doing or whether you saw the game last night? If the current teenager and younger has very little ability to do this, what will service experiences be like 10 years from now?  Will we just text each other everything?

I am addicted to my mobile device as much as the next person but I worry that our ability to connect on a basic human level is being lost.  I worry that one of the simplest and most rewarding things we do as human beings, face-to-face communication that articulates feeling, is being lost in the name of progress.  I worry that more and more educational opportunities are becoming available only in an online environment.  I don’t know about you, but at some point I like to sit with real living people and have meaningful discussion, not a computer screen full of faces or, worse yet, text boxes.

While I am not suggesting we go back in time, I am suggesting that we all take a moment each day to turn off our devices and have live communication without the distraction of texting and emails.  We could all use the practice and we could all use the connection to living people.  Next time you’re in the checkout line or on the elevator, look up from your phone and say something kind, change someone’s day, make a living connection.

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