Fast Food Nation: Are We Settling for Convenience over Presence?

“For everything you have missed, you have gained something else, and for everything you gain, you lose something else.”- Ralph Waldo Emerson

I consider myself fortunate to have experienced all the advances that we enjoy now and to still remember life when it was simpler. When I’m feeling nostalgic, I remember how we would gather as a family and watch, “The Cosby Show” on Thursday night. Now, there is no reason to gather around the television. You can DVR the show and watch it later. If the family wants to gather to do something special, you have to make a serious effort to get everyone together. It’s less organic.

With all of our technological advances, we have gained new possibilities and the ability to have almost anything at your fingertips. In some ways, we communicate more. But, the challenge we face is the ability to be present. There was a time when it was considered rude to whip out your cellphone and carry on a conversation while with a friend. Now, it’s commonplace to witness someone with their friend and texting someone else on their cellphone at the same time. People text each other from the next room. Relationships are carried out over social media and texting.

It’s tempting to always have your head buried in a phone or on a computer, but I think that it is creating a less intimate society. I’ve watched arguments carried out in a Facebook timeline. People can’t even be bothered to fight in person. When it comes to relationships and social interaction, are we settling for the fast food version? I’ve always been somewhat anti-social at times. I like to talk to people, but I’m not good at small talk or social interaction for the sake of company. I interact with a purpose and I am very picky about my inner circle. But, I find myself increasingly more resistant to picking up the phone and talking to someone. I would much rather text, email or contact you on social media. I blame it on my impatience. The fast food version is quicker for me.

But, I realize that I am missing something by only communicating electronically. Emails, text and social media leave words open to interpretation. You can’t convey context without hearing the sound of someone’s voice. It’s also easier to pretend when you are only communicating electronically. There is a value in interacting. As human beings, we are meant to touch, to feel and to share energy with one another. We are meant to share a room, a laugh or a feeling. Human life requires us to disconnect our computers and turn off our phones so we can reconnect with those that we love. Fast Food love is not good enough.

Love letters are a lost art. Gone are the days when people expressed themselves without emoticons. But, just because the world is changing doesn’t mean that we have to completely let it go. It may seem easier to send a quick text that says I love you, but presence is an even greater gift. If you’ve ever had fast food everyday, eventually you crave a nice home-cooked meal. And, if you want to get healthy, you realize that it is important to have fresh, home-cooked meals every day. So, maybe we should all take at least an hour or two out of our day to unplug and to plug-in emotionally to our loved ones. It’s healthier. Share some old-school lovin with those that you want to know how much you care about them. Because no one will remember the text you sent them when it’s no longer on the server. But, people will always remember how you made them feel and the moments you shared together.