I long for the days when people could only talk face to face. When you could see reactions and responses, read body language, intuit the mood of the one sitting with you.
I miss the days when you could walk up to a fast-food restaurant and order a soda from the smiling person behind the counter. When I could ask a thoughtful question and engage in a little conversation with someone I may never have the chance to see again.
Being kind “in person”.
I know those places still exist.
I stopped at a fast-food chain recently; all I wanted was a large unsweetened ice tea. Walking in, what I saw first–besides all the teenagers–were kiosks where you could order.
I could do this.
It took more time than if I’d ordered from a human. I was instructed to pay, submit my order, take a table tent, and find my seat. My tea would be delivered to me.
I waited fifteen minutes–more time than I would have waited had I talked to a person. I went back to the counter and interrupted a conversation to ask if I needed to do something extra to get my tea. They were kindly apologetic, handed me a cup, and I got my tea.
I’m not whining about technology. So many things are possible today that weren’t available even five years ago. We have access to information, to one another around the globe, to help when we need it.
I miss the faces. The chance to look someone in the eye and connect to another living being. To choose to inquire as to how their day is going, showing them value by the interchange.
The automated response of most establishments leads me on a wild goose chase just to be able to express my questions to someone living who has an answer.
It isn’t just technology. It’s easy to criticize and complain about what or who we don’t agree with. Our words have taken on a more cutting edge of accusation.
Words shouldn’t be weapons.
The Apostle Paul knew the value of words used to encourage, uplift, and edify others.
“Be gracious in your speech. The goal is to bring out the best in others in a conversation, not put them down, not cut them out.” Colossians 4:6
Grace is a spontaneous gift from God, totally undeserved, generous, and free. It’s always offered in love. Having gracious speech is kindness, thinking the best of others, considering what I say before I blurt out what’s running through my mind.
Technology can’t save us from goofy autocorrected words. Nor can it help us understand the heart of the one texting or emailing us.
Conversation can be tricky, too. We speak out of anger or frustration and filet someone with our words and attitudes.
Technology is here to stay, but we can use it with grace, caring for one another in our language, just as Jesus did. His words were a balm to our souls, not a dart to the heart.
I need to stop grousing and come to grips with technology in my life.
I also need to come to grips with how I speak with others.
Are my words a balm or a bomb?