You know that things a bit out of whack if you are "excited" about paying $3.20 for gas. My wife and I were heading up to get together with family in Cadillac, Michigan for the weekend. The Chicago area generally has the highest gas prices in the country and it was at about $3.70 in our suburb just before we left. On the way up we stopped in Holland, MI and bought gas for $3.20. It reminded me that, back in the day, I remember paying less than $1. Just this morning I heard that gas is at $5.00 a gallon in Los Angeles and is rising all across the country. It is a very good reminder that as we move through life things and things change that we can never really go back to the old days. Even if gas were to go back to near $1 it would not be the same as going back to the days when gas was last at $1 per gallon.
One of those things that has changed greatly since those days is our reliance on modern computer technology. It has become a pervasive (or even invasive) part of our existence. During our time in Cadillac the family rule is no technology. My cousin's house in Cadillac doesn't have a TV and they just recently put in Wi-Fi. But even with the no technology rule iPhones and iPods can often be found in use. So this weekend there was an even stricter no technology rule enforced...no iPhones or iPods. The rule was clearly spelled out to all the kids–young and old alike–on Friday. The young kids were the technology cops for us older kids as much as we were for them.
"I thought the rule was no phones," was the common refrain from a youngster whenever one of us adults slipped a phone out of a pocket. It is amazing to find out how much we rely on our phones when you have little and sharp eyes pointing out your every use.
Over the weekend something amazing happened. I spent more quality time with my cousin's kids than I have in a while. He and his wife have children ranging from 10 to 4 years old. In the past it had been easy for me to just hand one of them my phone when they asked for it and let them go off and play games. It was easier for me to break the adult rule of no technology than it was for me to look a young child in the eye and say no.
Today there is social media and technology that allows us to build relationships quick and easy but there is a real lack of depth to those relationships. There is no replacement for the slow and more difficult process of building a relationship through spending quality time with someone. This doesn't mean that these advances cannot help sustain a deeper relationship but we should never allow them to become a substitute for the better way. When we use the quick and easy way there is the ability to remain somewhat anonymous. There is also the ability to hide those things that we don't want people to see behind those things that we do want people to see. When you spend large amounts of quality time with someone those hidden things cannot stay hidden for long. That is when real relationship building starts; when we build a relationship in view of our total being and not just a facade that will crumble at the first sign of a storm. Those relationships are the ones that will stand for a long time.
I might not be able or even want to go back to the days before technology existed but I can focus on building relationships the old fashioned way.