A Little More Personal, Please – by Peggy Bogaard-Lapp
Just two weeks ago my cousin, Diana, died unexpectedly. She had just turned 60, and was out enjoying a beautiful Colorado Saturday with a fantastic group of friends. Diana was the kind of person that once you knew her, you loved her, and were glad to be among her long list of friends. She connected with each person she met. Eye to eye. Person to person. Since she was so personal, she also didn’t pretend to be anything other than who she was.
Diana didn’t have a computer at home, mostly because she didn’t need one. She rarely was home, and her cell phone was all she needed to be in touch. Her time was filled with her job as a bus driver – for special needs kids, for seniors going to church, for river rafters catching the shuttle. Her “customers” didn’t contact her through a website. She didn’t use Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest. She didn’t have an online persona, or post anonymous comments to the world. Diana’s comments and opinions came right from her heart. If you wanted to know what she was doing, you had to call and talk. She spent her cellphone minutes talking to her grand kids, and and her check ins with friends were over lunch. She did face time – face to face.
My daughter is 10, and has an iPad she received for Christmas in her possession at all times. I am trying to teach her that while it’s entertainment, it does not take the place of conversation. She has not yet encountered on line bullying, and only one time received a text from someone she didn’t know. Aside from the internet safety issue, I don’t want her to retreat into the anonymous world that is so easily available.
Do you remember talking on the phone, the rotary phone or maybe even the cordless phone, but having to actually be at home to do it? Sitting on your bed in the middle of your cluttered or maybe neat bedroom, chatting to a girl from school, or maybe even a BOY from school! Those mindless conversations, but connections through the technology of the telephone, something we still can’t exactly understand even today how it worked. Our rotary phone hung on the wall in the kitchen, and had a 20 foot cord that let me take the receiver to just outside the back door. The only bit of privacy a 13 year old girl could get. Oh, the hours I spent on that phone!
For the month of July, I hope to follow my cousin’s example and connect with my friends and family by phone. The “old fashioned” way. The personal way. I am taking a hiatus from Facebook. Sure, there are posts of photos from family members of summer vacation and other adventures which are interesting, and I like to know if there is a birthday or picnic coming up. I will have to check my online calendar once a week. MLTS posts are a must see. But I am going to scale back the time I spend online, and enjoy hearing the latest from my aunts, cousins, and friends first hand. Have you received the latest trend in fundraising solicitation – a form letter from your niece’s soccer team? It’s obviously written by an adult, probably with marketing background, is generic and totally impersonal and lacking words directly from my niece. I know it’s the easy way, but I still believe that if you want something bad enough, you need to ask for it directly. Another example of how personal touch matters.
The challenge I made to myself is to make one phone call a day to friend or family. Not email, not text, and actual phone call. I have lots of minutes on my cellphone plan, so why not use them? I am also going to support the USPS and MAIL something – a card or letter, and hand write it! I realized that today’s world calls for the use of the internet. I love the way I can connect with distant family members, old and young, over the internet. I just don’t want to lose the personal touch.