My sister sends a text, telling me she is making lasagna, and asks if I will bring a cake.
“Sounds great!” I readily agree. “When?”
There is no response.
I know we are celebrating my mother’s birthday early, but I have no idea when, so I don’t know when this cake will be needed. I could call my sister, but that sounds difficult. Will she be busy? She is a teacher, and she is busy a lot. She gets up early and seems to be in constant motion from the time she gets off work until she goes to bed. Since I’m not sure when that is (and I’m hoping it’s early), I end up not calling. Instead, I wait to hear when my cake will be needed.
It seems like a silly way to live. But here we are.
I know young people hate to call. They text and instantly respond, and that seems to work well. When older people text, they tend to forget to check their messages, and balls get dropped. I’m guessing I’m not alone in this.
I like email. I am at my computer all day, and when I see I have an email, I am on it like a seagull on a leftover dinner roll. I have an immediate distraction from trying to find a more interesting word than “follow.” (“Abide” is more interesting, but does it work?) When I see that little notification, I am like Pavlov’s dog. Pounce!
Recently, I installed a program that sends all my text messages to my computer. Now, I rarely miss a text, but I suspect I bug the heck out of whoever wrote to me.
They send a five-word text with no punctuation (obviously), and I reply from my keyboard, all 10 fingers flying, with punctuation and paragraph returns and asides and possibly a few parenthetical comments for good measure. I have no idea how long it takes to read this on their device. This is probably why I still don’t know when to bring the cake.
It is a cliché to complain about how much we use our devices, and yet, here I go. I will often call someone on my daily walk. Perhaps we haven’t chatted in a while. Perhaps I am a little tired, and talking will make the walk go faster. I always enjoy the chat, and I am always amazed at how fast the time goes by. Only later do I wonder what I missed while I was talking.
When my phone stays in my bag, I am free to chat with the dogs and notice the flowers and smell the autumn air. My thoughts on my walks fly more freely than they do when I am indoors. They have more space. My best ideas bubble up on my walks. And all of that is missed when I am attached to my phone.
I would never want to go back to the time when long-distance calls cost money and letters were sent in the mail. You could argue it was romantic, and these obstacles to communication made us treasure communication more—and that might be true.
But sending an email to someone and knowing they will read it that day is a wonderful thing. Being able to chat with my mom and dad wherever I am in the world is a gift I do not take for granted.
Still, it’s nothing like talking to someone face-to-face, and it never will be. It will never be as good as seeing my mom in person—preferably over cake.
Till next time,