Over Labor Day weekend, I visited family and friends in Tampa. I always say visiting them is like an exercise in sleep deprivation because there’s so much to do that we just don’t really have time to sleep. This trip was no exception.
Usually we start with catching up on each other’s lives and planning a basic outline of the shenanigans to ensue, but this time we started by watching four movies in a row. In between there was a little small talk, but it was mostly jokes about what we should put on next.
After everyone else had fallen asleep, I went on a walk with one of my friends and it reminded me of something: the natural world is really important.
We spend so much time in front of computers and plugged into Xbox Live that we no longer value the interpersonal connections in the everyday things.
When a walk around downtown is long overdue, too often we settle for a music filled trip to a drive through and back to the movies, TV, and video games.
Even classrooms have become impersonal. Students are increasingly separated from teachers by laptops, and let’s be honest, they’re probably on facebook.
What ever happened to good, old-fashioned discussions?
Instead we have blogs to write and can find the answers to all our questions online, minimizing human interaction and human connection. How is it even possible here at Sam to enroll in Interpersonal Communication and Speech for Teachers as online classes? What sense does that make?
We should be together, interacting to learn the skills of true communication. We need to interact with the world around us to grow and expand our horizons. We need to be connected face to face, not P2P, to be better students and better people.
On our walk, we talked about everything from health care to the livelihood of the Tampa Bay swing-dancing scene. We noticed trees, architecture, little midnight bistros, and things you miss when you drive past, intent on getting to the next distraction.
Things are distinctly different when conversation is the central entertainment as opposed to small talk before falling silent in the dark of a movie theater.
When we, as a community, create a discourse we strengthen our society. It simultaneously becomes more open and more closely knit. There is no hiding behind screen names and headphones.
Don’t get me wrong. I love my iPod and computer just as much as the next guy, but there really is so much more.
Yes, the internet has everything you could ever want and even more of what you don’t, but it doesn’t have people.
I can find that kid from my second grade math class and see all the funniest new clips, even read all the breaking news, but can e-friends and iPods ever be as good as walking from class-to-class with real friends?
Will an assignment due on blackboard lead to thought provoking discussion or the minimum response from less than enthusiastic students?
Who are we without having our faces stuck in our phones texting?
More importantly, why does this even need to be asked?