I watched a powerful video today about the rapidity of shift in our lives. Check it out at http://www.flixxy.com/technology-and-education-2008-alt.htm then ask yourself this:
What if it all ENDS tomorrow?
If the world-wide-web crashed, if TV and satellite and all technology ceased, what would you do? Imagine looking up from your blackened screen into the fear-filled eyes of the masses. Would your thumbs twitch? Would your family sit in stunned silence?
What would you do?
A young mother asked me that very thing recently. She wanted to cause me concern about the loss of data I have stored online. Things like photographs and online books and more. I believe she expected me to panic. Actually, I found the idea rather invigorating. Without a moment’s hesitation I responded, “Wouldn’t that be wonderful! Sure images and data would be lost, but no failed technology can rob me of my stories unless I stop sharing them. My life’s memories are intact as long as I take the time to reflect on them and share them. If the internet failed, I’d be the expert on hand to help everyone learn what I already know - storytelling is the essence of humanity.”
I went on to glory in the idea of families sitting around the dinner table talking. I waxed nostalgic about the return of visiting neighbors clustered on front porches, and the whispered gossip sessions over back fences. The young mother’s eyes got a little dreamy. “I’ve never experienced any of that, wow, what would that be like?”
“Why don’t you find out,” I replied, “In fact, I dare you to try.”
Sometimes, I feel like Don Quixote chasing windmills when I talk about storytelling. There’s been a renaissance over the past 30 years or so in regards to the importance of storytelling. Storytelling festivals have popped up all over the country. Professional storytellers can be found in every state in the union. In deed, storytelling has come to be recognized as an art form. I embrace and applaud all of that. Yet, storytelling as a life skill and core principle of family togetherness has slipped through the cracks.
Family time has devolved into a rush of timelines and orchestration of schedules. Meals are grabbed on the run, or in front of the TV. Communications have collapsed into texted chore charts and check ins.
What if it all ENDS tomorrow?
Do you ever find yourself feeling sad or lonely in a crowded room? Have you had days when you realized no one looked you in the eye, or stopped long enough to listen to how you really are? Do you ever feel like life is zooming by so fast you can’t catch your breath, more or less remember a single thing about yesterday?
Stop. Breathe. Close your eyes and take a moment...
What if we all decided to take a stand? What if we reclaim the family dinner and return to being fully present when our children want to talk about what happened at school and who they have a crush on and who broke their heart? What if, instead of firing off an angry email to those who we disagree with, or who have hurt the ones we love, we sat down and really talked? What if we declared technology free zones once a month, once a week, or once a day where whatever we did had to involve the sharing of story?
Imagine the impact of introducing the up and coming generation to the indescribable joy of listening to some one else’s story.
In a world where WW II vets are dying at the rate of 1000 per day we can’t afford to imagine, we have to act. Think of all that is being lost each time the coffin lid closes over the wrinkled old face of someone people have stopped listening to.
I’m not suggesting we stop technological progress. I’m not presuming we can block the shift. I’m suggesting we make sure we don’t discard our human connectivity in the midst of it all.
After all…the power has gone out before, it will go out again. Will you be ready with a good story?
I can help.