Monday, November 11, 2013

Communications Conundrum

I punched in the number and pressed "Send." My heartbeat jumped a couple of notches as I waited for the call to go through. Trying to keep my focus on the road in front of me and the vehicles around me, I thrilled to the response on the other end of the line. A familiar voice. In another state. Far away. I don't think I will every forget that call.

Who did I call? I don't really remember. Why was I so excited? Oh, that was the real issue, you see. I was excited because I was talking on a cell phone to someone in another state as I drove down the road in my car. And this didn't happen last week or last month; it happened about twenty years ago. What an advance in technology! What a leap in communications possibilities! I had no idea where this was heading. Most likely, neither did you.

It was only a year or two later when I discovered that one of my friends, a businessman who worked extensively in both Phoenix and Yuma, did non-stop business deals on his phone as he commuted along Interstate 8. He called me one day and we talked for at least a half-hour. His signal dropped for a couple of minutes, then he called right back. I remember dreaming at the time of the possibilities.

We still didn't understand where it was going.

A couple years after that, mobile phone companies came up with plans that didn't charge you for minutes in which you called another of their mobile phones. Suddenly we saw an exponential increase in the number of people who had a "cell phone." Then, shortly, mobile phones moved from "toys" to necessities.

I am writing these words on an iPad, using an App that will allow me to send it or post it in more directions than you can shake a stick at. By the time it goes online, some of you will read it in an email, but far more will read it directly from my blog. The largest number of readers will come from Twitter and Facebook, with some linking in guessed it...LinkedIn. While all these different ways of communicating still amaze me, one of the biggest changes in my life is not that I can send these words out through so many various channels, but that you can communicate back to me through just as many media (probably more).

Suddenly...SUDDENLY we can see where this was going!!

We can Skype or Facetime with someone across town or on the other side of the planet, often for "free." We can hold meetings in which we all sit in our own homes and offices, seeing and hearing each other. We can send and receive messages, carrying on running conversations with each other. WE. CAN. COMMUNICATE! But many of us have all but forgotten how to shut it off.

And it's sucking the life out of us.

That's why I'm going to talk about it this weekend at Stone Ridge Church. Can't be there? Catch the podcast!


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