Be real with me

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A few days ago, a publisher of an online magazine got in touch.  A brief email conversation ensued, and then he posed this question:  Why didn't we just pick up the phone and talk?

I am leaning more and more in that direction these days.  Just pick up the phone and talk.  Just walk down the street and say hello.  Just suggest that, when my husband and I stop our work mid-day to grab a quick bite to eat, we are on a date, we are high with romance, we are not merely taking care of one more thing, but living the moment together.

Maybe it's because my arms have been numb for weeks, and because typing hurts.  Maybe it's because I cannot for the life of me understand the new Facebook, and I'm not even inclined to try.  Maybe it's because I'm increasingly interested in being real with people who are real with me—and stepping back from those who might view my access or my passion as a stepping stone, a gateway, a thruway.  Maybe the clock is ticking, and maybe it's time to push back a little from this big screen and pick up the phone and talk.

(Or, as aquafortis makes a good point here, just and simply be.)

I have loved all the thoughtful responses to this post.  And I suspect that I gave the wrong impression.  Anyone who knows me knows that I am not a yapper, and certainly not someone who would interrupt another's day with an unforeseen phone call.  But I think I have grown a little weary (and physical issues exacerbate this) of so much screen time.  I yearn for old-fashioned letters, for example, that you can sit and read, outside on the deck.  I yearn for more simple interaction, at a library or grocery store.  I run a business, I write books, I blog.  I have so many important on-line friends.  (And then there's Facebook.)  All of that entails a lot of typing.  The other day a friend came over and we took a walk, and I loved that — outside, conversation, friendship.  Over the weekend, I attended the neighborhood block party, took a tour through a house under construction, played with a little kid.  I am a quiet person, an introvert.  But I like being out there in the world.  I like breathing fresh air.  And that, really, is what I meant to say with this post.  A little less screen time is what I seek.  And yet, I don't want to lose contact with any of you.  The great conundrum.


aquafortis said...

As a phone-phobic person, I can't help reacting with a big "yikes!!" But there is something about talking to a person face to face that is definitely missing from either a phone conversation or an e-mail. I feel at my worst over the phone because I can only guess at facial expressions, can't interpret body language, and have no time to think over my responses. An e-mail, at least, adds in time to think, but the rest is still missing, I suppose.

I do like things to be real. I think that's why I have regular absences from my online life. I need that time to recharge, to not split my attention.

lib said...

My dear cousin,
Just yesterday the same thoughts found their way to the part of my brain that is lacking in real conversation with people, walking down the hall and saying "hi" not e-mailing "hi", hearing a voice ask a question, give an answer. We are losing the art of conversation, letter writing, romance...all that makes us alive! E-mails, text messaging (which I still do not do!!) is not going away, but there is a balance which we each must find.
Love you, Beth!

Wendy said...

Oh, I am right there with you, Beth - totally and completely. Sometimes all this digitizing just is not good for the soul. And don't get me started on FB. I would like things to just stay the same for maybe five minutes before they are "updated" and "improved." My brain hurts.

Jeannine Atkins said...

Yes. I was recently asked to get on board for something I believe in, but was all an online venue, and I said no thanks. Time is short, and most of what I'm adding these days are things that take me out of the house and face to face with people.

Snorkle said...

This is so true. It's so refreshing to have meetings face-to-face or even via phone conversation. Lately I've found my life revolving around email because I have such a busy schedule. Even though that's often convenient there is still something satisfying about the inflection in a person's voice, their mannerisms and their quirks in face-to-face conversations.

(Also, I'm terribly annoyed with the ever-changing Facebook, probably because I'm a creature of habit and I like knowing how to work things.)

KFP said...

I don' know. Like aquafortis I am rather phone-phobic myself. And phone calls and drop-in visits interrupt people, so I'm not comfortable doing that to others--and can get flustered when I have that done to me. E-mail, texts, commenting in blogs such as this when one has the much more comfortable for me. But I do like running into friends in public places -- coffee shops, outside libraries, bookstores, food shopping and such -- and chatting briefly. That seems mutually happy and energy-giving.

In the small college town where I live you invariably run into someone you know if you go for a walk up town or to the campus. I do like that. Or just life going on around you outside--whether walking or looking out the window, whether people or birds and animals-- can keep you feeling connected and real.

Florinda said...

I'm with aquafortis on this one. One reason I love e-mail and social media is that I can talk with people - which I feel more comfortable doing in writing than in speech anyway - without picking up the phone. Unless the person on the other end of the line is someone I know well and am very comfortable with, or it's a cut-and-dried transactional/logistical conversation, I'd rather conduct it almost anywhere other than on the phone.

Or the new-and-NOT-improved Facebook, which really needs a "dislike" button.

Lilian Nattel said...

Both are good--here on the internet there is an opportunity to connect and meet people we never would otherwise. And sometimes those virtual interactions lead to face to face meetings as well. And yes, there needs to be a limit to everything happening in front of the computer. A walk, a boardgame, a phone conversation--we are social creatures. We need it. Introverts, too.

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