Being Human

I know. Yes, I do, because I have heard it from our current generation a thousand times over and more: We love our laptops and smart phones and iPads – can’t live without them.

Just look around, anywhere, anytime, anyplace. Technology will come with us into the future, an invaluable tool and necessary resource. But, while observing our relentless demand for immediacy, I cannot help but ask: Are we taking technology into the future, or is it taking us, willing or not, along with it?

It was early May and I was enjoying dinner out with family and friends at a favorite restaurant. I noticed two couples being seated at a table only a few feet from our own. It was prom season, a perfect night with clear skies and a soft, warm breeze. The boys were handsome in formal attire and being very polite to the waitress. The girls, smiling in spring dresses, looked happy and beautiful. This should be a perfect evening for them. But not 20 minutes later, I am asking myself: “What’s wrong with this picture?”

There is no conversation at their table. None.

All four are staring down at their cell phones and texting. And not even to each other!

Why? Why are the boys not becoming lost in the smiles and eyes of their lovely dates, the girls not reaching across the table with their fingertips gently touching?

Oh! We don’t speak in such terms anymore? Perhaps not, but down deep in our hearts, where we live, we still think that way.

After placing their order with the waitress, one of the girls took a “selfie” and sent it to the others. For a moment, everyone laughed. For a moment. Then, eyes down, cell phones on, and texting again. Still!

In my mind, I’m thinking that the photo they were looking at was not her. She was there, just across the table, the real her. Right there.

Reading her text was not the same as hearing her actually say the words; hear the emotion in her voice.

The “selfie” could not begin to express what it would be like to enjoy a slow dance together, the sights and sounds and the night air. No, but later, both boys would text each other and their friends all about it.

Sadly, the cell phone cannot see or hear, only reproduce. It cannot touch or smell or speak with emotion. It cannot feel.

We are deprived of these human senses and emotions and accept, at best, a replica of ourselves. I stop thinking about it.

Finally, my wife approached their table and whispered something into the boys’ ears and quietly walked away. They had never met, but the texting stopped and the cell phones were put away into purses and jacket pockets.

For the rest of the evening, the couples began to enjoy speaking with and to each other, laughing, growing and learning during those carefree, sometimes reckless and awkward, necessary years.

Now, they were discovering the most advanced tool in all human technology, one that can never be duplicated, but only felt: the heart.