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Email and Texting: Cold, Distant, Impersonal Technology? [By: Male; Parent, New Jersey]

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[adapted from the original text]

September, 2012

Communicating via technology (email and texting, twitter, etc.) in today’s world is the norm. Many people say that technology has “connected us” more than ever. But do we wonder if technology really makes us more distant, impersonal, and cold. Are we more, or less, reachable through technology?

I called my aunt today because Rosh Hashanah is upon us, and I wanted to wish her a Happy New Year. She is from an older generation. As far as I know, she does not have an email address, nor does she twitter or text. The warmth of her voice on the phone reminded me of my mother, who passed away almost 9 ½ years ago, who we miss so much. Since my aunt and my mother were sisters, they sounded a little alike. And when I spoke with my aunt, the memories flooded back – I thought of the many, many times I called my aunt before the Jewish New Year  (I probably have called her each year since I was 6 or 7 years old – so that is about 38 or 39 years of phone calls).

In the first moment after my aunt picked up the phone, I felt transported back to my mother’s pre-holiday kitchen many years ago. I could see her at the counter, smiling and busy, making many delicious Hungarian foods for our family and guests to celebrate the holidays. I could practically smell my mother’s cooking while my aunt was speaking.
If my aunt merely sent me an email to me, I would not have had that bittersweet, sad, warm all over feeling that came upon me when I heard her voice, her thick Hungarian accent. I would not have had the lump in my throat when she showered us with her kind blessings for the upcoming year, and I would not have felt the deep happiness and pride when she complimented my wife and my children.

Communicating with others via technology is important and has its benefits. And I am sure that with each passing year, more and more ways to communicate via technology will be created.

But we need to be judicious in terms of how and when we use technology to reach out to people. Nothing is like calling someone and really hearing their voice, and feeling their message when you speak with them – the emotion in their voice, their voice cracking, their sigh, their pride, their whisper and their warmth. And when you call, you get to transmit those same feelings and passion to them.

I am trying to teach my children that we need to make an effort to use technology when appropriate, and to really speak with people when we really want to hear them and their message, and when we want to reach them and their hearts.

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