In the last two days we have traveled from the USA halfway across the world. We came through four airports in busy western cities and I was struck by how many people are on their phones, ipads, or other devices….ALL THE TIME. Wherever we were – sitting and waiting, having a snack in a restaurant, standing in line, almost everywhere people were looking down at their devices or as my Gramps calls them ‘little machines’.
Our destination was a little known, small Developing Country (now the politically correct term for third world countries) in the south Pacific and our first stop was in the capital city airport. Looking around, I saw no one looking down at their devices! Everyone was present in the moment. I sat down next to a lady and she evidently saw me as a person worth her time and … get ready…. looked me in the eye and TALKED to me. It happened like this: Meri 1) Yu go we? Meri 2) Mi go long Nambis. Yu go we? Meri 1) Oooo i hat long Nambis! Mi go long Hailands. Meri 2) Naispela!
See how that works? One asks a question, the other answers; they look at each other. And we were strangers! We just chatted along until my flight was called. It’s Conversation 101. There’s probably an app for that but let’s not find it – let’s just practice talking face to face. Even people in Developed Countries can do it if they try.
This morning we went to the local town to get groceries. I saw people walking and talking together. On one street corner two men were shaking hands and laughing; up the road young girls and boys were walking barefoot and chatting on their way to school. At the Market plenty of meris selling fruit and veggies talked to me as I stopped by their tables of produce. Some asked me where I was living here in this town; one even complimented my Pidgin English (which, by the way, is rusty).
Lest I be misunderstood I am not saying this country is a utopia or paradise. Crime in the cities is high, piles of rubbish are out in the open, the health facilities are deplorable, and there is not a whole lot of money to go around. But this is a relational culture and the people talk to each other!
I wonder-have we in countries where technology is taking over lost something in the process? And in relational aspects of life, which is the Developed Country now?