These days, so much communication is conducted electronically. Everyone’s texting, e-mailing, tweeting and Facebook-ing to such an extent that we’re missing out on the pleasure of face to face engagement. Digital communication is faceless, anonymous, rushed and often impolite. There’s no opportunity to see what people are feeling or to gauge their mood.
So it was a pleasure last weekend to drop in to a local church coffee morning and to engage with residents and visitors alike. Every Saturday morning from May to September, the church opens its doors and invites everyone in for tea, coffee, cakes and local produce.
There’s no religious slant to it – just an ancient environment in which to meet, greet and eat. Last weekend it was my wife’s turn to host the event. With the help of my daughter this meant some advance baking, then pricing, plating and selling their wares.
I dropped in to say hello at around 11am. The church was thronged with local residents, passers-by and tourists (the local priest would be delighted with a Sunday congregation of even half that size). It was good to chat with people, to make eye contact and to slow down for an hour or so. It made me realise quite how fast-paced modern life is and that much of that speed is really needless. Why do we rush around everywhere? Why do we feel pressure to respond in an instant to a text or e-mail?
Admittedly, there were a few older members of the community there, most of whom don’t even have pay TV let alone an Internet connection or BlackBerry. Can you believe it, they still write letters! And I tell you what, I’m more than a little envious. Their lives are genuinely less complicated, more relaxed and, dare I say it, more contented.
So, I’m going to make a conscious effort to slow down (at least a bit) and speak with people more. And I’m definitely going to eat more cake!