I have been thinking a lot lately about conversations and communication with others lately. It started off simply enough by going to our local Farmer’s Market to pick up some squash. I grew up going to the Farmers Market on Scott Street in Memphis every year, but I had not been to one in several years and was surprised at the change. There was an older couple dancing to some live music as I walked up and it was nice to see them enjoying themselves. The booths were there with fresh produce, but there was a difference. Most of the produce I saw was for sale in one or two serving packages and was more expensive than I thought it would have been. I am guessing the packaging was for the dare I say “Yuppie Lifestyle”. It seemed expensive to me due to the fact it was much higher than the grocery stores. Before you lambast me I am not against farmers. This was just different from what I was expecting.
When I was growing up we went to the Farmer’s Market because we did not have a lot of money and it was a great way to put up produce for the winter. We bought several different large mesh bags of peas, beans, corn,and other produce. We finished off by going down watermelon row and getting a watermelon to take home. Afterwards we would start the shelling process. We shelled at our house and then went to my grandparents and helped them shell their produce as well. This went on for at least a week or more. Your fingers would turn different colors and would be sore. But something more important was happening. This is where we would sit and talk. We told stories and laughed. I learned things and heard stories about my relatives; some of which I can never print. We also talked about life and God. I did not think much of it at the time, but we had lots of these kind of events in our family. Looking back these conversations were an important part of my life.
This past week my family went to see the “Wizard of Oz” at the Orpheum Theater. This was my first time to see the movie. I had seen bits and pieces and knew the story line, but my girls decided I needed to see the whole thing. We went for a supper before the movies and got there early so we could get a good seat. We had about 45 minutes to sit and talk. We laughed and just hung out. However, I noticed something as we sat there. All over the theater there were families sitting together, but almost all of them were on their phones. One guy below me was there with his wife and son. He was surfing the internet looking at Facebook, ESPN and other things. He was wasting time when he could have been interacting with his family. One mother beside me texted through the whole movie.
Before you think I am some kind of prehistoric animal let me assure you that I love my technology and I enjoy using it. However, there is a time and place for everything and sometimes we need to shut it off. Have you ever been out with friends and they continue to have major text conversations the whole time? I want to say “ just call me when you have time for me”. Where are the times in our lives when we are having conversations? As I am dealing with young people I am starting to realize that they are having a hard time really communicating to each other. Marriages are starting off with two people who talk like they are texting – short and shallow. There is a great post about this on Desiring God: http://www.desiringgod.org/blog/posts/six-ways-your-phone-is-changing-you
I know we cannot go back to the way things were, but we do have to build in times when we can talk and listen. Our spouses deserve this and our children need this in their lives. Counselors will tell you that parents are one of the top influencers in their children’s lives. The question becomes “ How can all of us do a better job?”