Can face-to-face time come back to Madison?
By JON M. HUNTER, Publisher
Among the benefits of today's electronic technology is the ability to "keep in touch" with family and friends.|
Consider all the ways to communicate: cell phones, texting, tweeting, Facebook, Skype and many more. Decades ago, students at Dakota State University used to write a letter or telephone home occasionally. Today, they text their parents, high school friends and other people frequently, sometimes hundreds of times a day.
We recognize the value of great communication, but we sometimes wonder about losing the most powerful way to communicate: talking face to face with another person.
For many people, going away to college was a chance to meet new people, make new friends or join a student club. For those who move to another city to work, meeting new people in an apartment complex, at work or at a social club helped develop lifelong friends or even find a future husband or wife.
Considering that, we were struck recently by something we saw at a restaurant: four young couples, looking like they were on dates, waiting for a table. All eight were staring at their cell phones and not talking with each other.
We also saw a letter that went out to local businesses last week from Kenn Skluzacek, the local bowling association manager. He noted a decrease in bowling league participation, and he encouraged companies to sponsor a team and encourage employees to bowl.
We can't help but think that bowling leagues, which can be great social events and good exercise, are somehow being replaced by Facebook or other "virtual" relationships.
We'd like to make a case for exchanging virtual relationships for face-to-face relationships.
To be honest, Madison is a great place to do that. Invite a neighbor over for dinner, attend a Bulldog or Trojan sporting event, join a bowling league, go for a walk around the DSU campus with a friend, ask an unfamiliar co-worker to have lunch, stay for coffee after church, go to a Madison Area Arts Council event.
Our best suggestion? Read the Daily Leader, especially the Locals. Monday's Locals column included notices about the Madison Garden Club, the 4-H Robotics group, a play group for parents and children at the Downtown Armory, the Interlakes Senior Citizens, Kiwanis Club and Ladies Luncheon Bridge Club.
We're not suggesting that we abandon the new technology. But we do think getting to know people in person is a great opportunity right outside our doors.