We Don’t Say “Hi” Anymore …

A woman, looking angry at being ignored, sits with her husband as reads the newspaper over breakfast circa 1940. (Photo by FPG/Getty Images)

I was on my way to the hospital to visit a parishioner. Walking takes me about 15 minutes and most of the people I encounter are students coming or going from classes. On this particular afternoon I passed fifteen persons. I tried to make eye contact with each person – gently, so as not to freak them out. Of the fifteen, one person acknowledged me with a nod and a “Hi”. All the others were, or seemed to be oblivious to my presence. It is doubtful any of them heard me say “Hello” to them; they all had ear buds in their ears and were looking at their phone.

Fourteen out of fifteen! I have little doubt that all of them would have responded to me had I been manifesting some sign of distress; but in terms of simply saying “Hello” – not going to happen.

Seinfeld does a cute little spoof on the iconic newspaper at the table. “We don’t talk anymore” is not a new concern, and blaming the iPhone makes no more sense than blaming the Boston Globe or Washington Post. We do live, however, in this bizarre moment when the devices meant to enhance communication often have the opposite effect.

Jerry and Kramer tell it in a funny way. Charlie Puth and Selena Gomez remind us that love can be lost to us simply because “we don’t talk anymore“.

Step Five says: “Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.” “Recovery” requires that we talk to each other, or at least to one other human being.

Steps Eight and Nine speak first of the need to be willing and then to act on our willingness to “make amends” to those we have harmed.

After 9/11 we heard on the intercoms and saw it on signs in the airports – “If you see something, say something.” But … do we see each other? Do you see me? Please … Say something.

 

Mark Demers

Want to talk about sex, politics, spirituality? So do I. I grew up in a religious home in the 1950’s and 1960’s. Our country was reeling from assassinations and the devastation of the Viet Nam War. Looking for something beautiful, I got a degree in music, married the love of my life and had children. Looking for God, I then went to seminary. Looking for something that might transform the world, I became a local church pastor. Now, I’m always looking for people who want to talk about important things. I cherish conversations with emerging leaders, people who are antsy to try an idea they believe would change the world for the better. I’d would love to hear from you.