We Need to Talk

“We need to talk.”

In an era of texting, Facebook, Instagram, and email, it seems as though this is an antiquated idea.  We’ve made communication faster, more convenient and straight-forward. We no longer need to make or read facial expressions – we have emojis! Why waste the energy on getting together when we can LOL over a text? Sure, there are some drawbacks, but all-in-all it’s a net gain, right?

We know it isn’t.  

DSC06058It’s why the Louvre is jam-packed every day with people clamoring to see the Mona Lisa when they can see a high-definition picture on their phone.  We can choose to watch the Bears from the comfort of our own couch on a big screen, but we choose to pay a hundred bucks to see it from the top of the stadium where the football looks like a grain of rice. Tens of thousands pack Wembley Stadium to see Ed Sheeran play when you can listen to a perfect recording on Amazon Prime for free.  

We pay money, time and energy for these privileges and they excite us. The most beautiful picture of the Rocky Mountains can’t possibly recreate the smell of the air or feel of the crisp breeze. Go and examine at Monet’s “Water Lilies,” at Chicago’s Institute of Art and then at a picture online. It doesn’t take an art critic to see the difference.

The same goes for face to face conversations.

Just last week, Los Angeles Lakers guard Rajon Rondo talked about the struggles of young players being teammates with superstar LeBron James.

“Every guy on our team, LeBron was their favorite player growing up.  Everyone had the shoes, his jersey. You’re the biggest fan in the world.”

Then trade rumors surfaced.  Rumors involving these young players being traded off of the team. LeBron was vocally excited about the possibility of the trades.

Rondo continued, “It’s like you’re playing with MJ (Michael Jordan) … and it’s like your mom and dad, or the person that you looked up to and idolized, doesn’t want you. And then to have that sitting in your gut, not knowing. Guys aren’t at the age where they can have a man-to-man conversation versus texting you. Everybody wants to text you: ‘How you doing? We cool?’ People don’t understand how to have a real conversation and talk out problems.”

_V0C2927He absolutely nailed it. As a society, we have begun to lose the ability to have real conversations.  Some in the current generation have never developed the skill. It is something that the best text, email or Facebook post cannot duplicate.  We need to sit and talk.

It’s why we continue to go to Africa.

It takes us 20 to 30 hours of travel time just to get to our first beds on the Continent. Then there is another leg of the journey to get to our destination – usually another 3 to 5 hours. But I can tell you from experience, there is nothing in the world like sitting and talking to farmers who earn less than $2 a day and hearing their stories.  I cannot possibly describe what it feels like to shake the gnarled and calloused hand of a 74-year-old man who works 10 hours every day in his fields. Words cannot express the joy of being embraced by a child who we’ve sponsored and hearing, “I’m so happy you’re back.”

This is where change starts.  In face to face conversations.  In handshakes, gestures and facial expressions.  Building relationships takes time, but we cannot replace it with innovation.

“Let’s talk.” –   It’s beautiful.