Directions and communication

Published 7:36 pm Saturday, February 4, 2012

My wife and I recently drove to and stayed the night in Charlotte, N.C., to meet with friends. It’s a lovely drive, and it was a nice overnight stay.

As I was listening to our GPS system tell me which way to go, it occurred to me that with so many cars equipped with GPS, gas station attendants must have a lot more time on their hands than they once did.

My wife and I recalled a trip in the Arizona desert a number of years ago when we got completely turned around in the vast similarity of the landscape, completely misunderstood our map, and I found myself asking for directions at multiple convenient stores, utterly convinced that they were all part of a conspiracy to get and keep me lost.

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But the world has changed. We communicate more than ever and talk less than ever before. But then again, talking and communicating are two different things. It is entirely possible for air to pass from one’s lips and communication not to happen.

Likewise, in the modern era, a great deal of communication happens without any direct human interaction. We have replaced coffeehouse debates with Facebook fights, barbershop discussion with texting tirades.

Communication has become paramount, and yet we do far less of it with actual face-to-face human interaction.

Asking for directions may be a lost art, the passing of which no one laments. However, asking for guidance, sharing ideas in person with the nuance of facial expressions (and not emoticons) and help from people is a lost art, as well.

In the modern age, we need each other more than ever, and yet we interact with one another less than ever.

Perhaps the words of my 3-year-old boy, “Big” Ephram, the astute theologian, are helpful in this discussion. When it is his turn to say the blessing at mealtime, he says, “God made everybody, not just you. God made us to love people. God loves everybody. So should you. We need each other, and we need God.”

He’s right. It’s just like that other most profound of theologians, the Apostle Paul, wrote in the first century. “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.“ (Ephesians 4:2-3 NIV84)

We need one another in gentleness, love and peace. That’s tough to do on Twitter.