So, Visitors, ever notice how rapidly we are losing our humanity behind our screens?
This worries me, on many levels.
In the last column, I detailed to you my excursion into online relationship building. Online hilarity aside, there is something happening here that is essentially broken. In the single week I have been exploring, I have had several texting relationships with interesting men.
I am rapidly losing patience with the online world, so I am developing my own internal standards. I won’t text with an interesting man for more than three days, for example. Honestly, for me? That’s it. I am all over meeting actual real-life members of the opposite gender who interest me. In real life.
What’s more distracting? The lovely woman or the distracting screen?
It’s been about a week, and about half a dozen of these virtual conversations. So many of these guys are good at online conversation! Witty, entertaining, and interesting as all get out. After day 3, I propose a meeting, and the response rate drops dramatically. Interesting. Texting is so incredibly easy, and so distracting from the real, actual humans on each side.
Here’s what I wonder about screentime, Visitors- what seems to be broken here is a sense of relational work, and I just can’t stand it. Three days is more than enough to decide if you want to have coffee with me, just go ahead and pull the trigger.
Of course, it’s more complicated than that, it always is. See, men in my age demographic have been beaten up. Usually, there’s at least one divorce in the story, and if there are children in the picture, some assorted heartbreak there.
(I’ve discovered I’ve raised intolerant children in that area. I detailed one of these custody-battle stories with my oldest daughter, her response? “Geez Mom, you’d think these guys would have thought this through before having children with someone they really don’t like.” Hmm, some truth to that.)
I get it, men, and it’s ok. You’ve had it rough. You really have, my heart goes out to you. Here’s a suggestion, let’s not overlay that on me, please? Don’t manufacture some sort of grief or pressure that you’ve been carrying, and pretend it’s coming from me. I’m safe. Stop texting me. Rally some courage. Let’s FaceTime and arrange a coffee date. Real communication is tough, I get it, but you’ve got this, I’m sure.
What’s becoming interesting to me, is that there seems to be very little difference between the men who claim to be Christians, and men who are flat-out prowling for dates.
One of the prowlers propositioned me. It was actually hilarious, and he pulled it off. He was part of the younger set, not quite 40. We were merrily texting away, him as eager as a puppy.
“….We could meet for coffee at the park, and then if we liked each other, we could go back to my apartment?”
Uh, after two days of texting? Pass.
One of the Christians simply couldn’t figure it out.
“Hey Angel, did you sleep well? What’s going on at your job? How are things? Text me back when you can.”
Gracious! Delightful man, you have a phone in your pocket. Zip the texting, please.
See, Visitors, actual, real-time, face to face communication is risky. Even in some cases, difficult. Check this out-
Stuttering humor. It’s OK! I laughed the loudest!
You guys know me, I stutter. You know the reason why, a minor brain injury as a toddler. I just about DIED laughing when I saw this on Dan Pearce’s website, Single Dad Laughing. (danoah.com)
Dan is just an amazing blogger and author. I love this guy. Dan has battled obesity, the demise of two marriages, the challenge of adoptive and single parenting, and crippling depression. He’s our tribe, he gets it. Life sucks. It’s just terrible. Awful things happen, and something is waiting around the corner to ambush you, even now.
On the other hand, life is frigging awesome, especially face to face. The love of friends (like you,dear Visitors) is a gift! The face of a child is hopeful! There really is a God who cares! Whole Foods has cookies and cream ice cream!
The stuttering thing is emblematic of all this, Visitors. See, unlike you fluent speakers, I take nothing about speaking for granted. It’s hella work! My parents were good, I landed in speech therapy around age 6, and stayed there until, oh, about two weeks ago.
I’ve been trained in all of these tiresome fluency techniques, I’m aware of breathe control, articulator use, word choice, soft contacts, blah, blah, blah. It’s like playing the piano. If I practice, I’m pretty good. If you distract me, or I distract myself, things might get a little slow.
Speaking IRL, (In Real Life, for those of us over 45) is a flipping challenge for me. If you muster up the courage to put down the screen and actually speak to me in the same room, I might stutter. Or take a little longer to say something. Guess what? You get to show me what an awesome real-life person you are! This is how it works-
Me: “Well hi! It’s nice to see you! Shall we go to starbucks and grab a t-t-t”
Me: “Yes, table. Hey, look, that was sweet, but I really can’t stand people finishing my sentences.”
You: “Oh! Ha! Sorry!”
Me: “No worries. ”
See? That’s not so tough. Road bump crossed, imaginary crisis averted, Victoria awards you mad courage and respect points, and a nice coffee date likely follows.
Gracious. Well, we could go on about this for hours. I guess, before I lose all hope, I’d like to ask you guys to come alongside. Put down the &$#% screen. Have tech-free dinners, tech-free weekends. If you’re married, DO NOT take that thing to bed.
If you’re single, like me? Send me one, last text.
“Starbucks, 5:30. Looking forward to it!”