Something is wrong, very wrong! Something is missing. It is making us stupid. It is stressing our relationships. It is creating a gaping hole in the middle of our culture.

I see it every day. It’s in my face on the cable news networks as a Republican spokesperson and his or her Democrat counterpart go at it for three minutes on a complex issue, without ever saying anything that is the lest bit helpful or enlightening, as they spew forth a their party’s mantra.

I get it when I am taking care of family business, and I have a lot of family business, being the legal representative for my brother and my parents, and running two fledgling businesses. I hear it as the customer service representative recites the company mantra response to my question, indicating that she wasn’t listening to me, at all.

It’s there when my phone or computer chimes with a text message or email. While this form of communicating works well for some things, these days people are absolutely clueless about when it is appropriate to pick up the phone and communicate verbally in real time or face-to-face.

What is the common thread interwoven through these cultural maladies? They are shortcuts that contribute to the further impersonalization of our culture. People love shortcuts and time savers, but you miss a lot when you take a shortcut. In the shortcuts I described, you miss out on thinking for yourself and enjoying a real conversation and relationship with another human being. That’s why they are stupid shortcuts. When you do a cost-benefit analysis, you lose far more than you gain.

You might gain a little time savings, but you never figure out what you believe. You might avoid a long conversation, but you never get to know the other person. 

Image by Pep Sanchez. Creative Commons

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