Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

There’s No App for That May 4, 2013

I got something in the mail recently I couldn’t keep from sharing. As I’ve previously mentioned, I recently attended first communion celebrations for two of my favorite little people. While I was not allowed in either church, the messages of love, hope and peace filtered their way directly into my little doggie heart through the conversations that followed.

Thank YOUI was reminded of those messages this week when I received thank you notes from princesses Sophie and Abigail thanking my parents and I for our gifts of money and jewelry. Just as my name had been included on the invitations, my name was included on the notes thanking us for coming to be part of their special days. I can honestly say I was absolutely touched by the sincerity of gratitude in the priceless little people handwriting of Sophie and Abigail.

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life,” author Melody Beattie writes. “It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.”

These written words have an unspoken power to ignite my imagination and feed my soul. But they also bring to mind something about the written word itself. It is dying amidst our technologically savvy culture and it breaks my heart.

Every time the newspapers get thinner and smaller, I know that also means there are less people on staff to do the reporting, editing and layout. While e-books are enabling more writers to dip their ink in the wonderful world of publishing, gizmos like tablets and e-readers are encouraging people to opt for a paperback-free way of the future. And with the millions of apps and games, Smartphones are helping people around the word stay “connected.” Connected to what? Certainly not to each other, when it’s more convenient to use technology.

Why call when you can text message? Why write when you can e-mail? Why browse a library when you can buy the book with a click of a button?

I’ll tell you why. There is one very important thing people who buy too far into the technology are missing: the context of emotion. The vocal tone of a sentence can drastically alter its meaning, and good intentions can be so easily misinterpreted for sarcasm. Albeit, the majority of tech-savvy folks know that ALL CAPS MEANS YOU’RE YELLING, but a yell is meant to be heard not read. Sure, you can put a smiley emoticon (or a winky face, or a kissing face, or an undecided face) at the end of a text message, but that doesn’t come close to the impact of any of those emotions experienced in person. The thought that goes into a handwritten letter or thank-you note is unmatched by the autocorrect and spell check of word processors.

All the teeny tiny happy faces in the world can’t replace a real one. You can’t give someone a hug via e-mail. Herein lies the problem with our reliance on modern technology. Power to the people who still write thank you notes, send paper cards to family members on birthdays and anniversaries, and who read the newspaper. Call me old school, but getting those special little envelopes in the mail this week brought to light a serious problem with our continuously evolving technological society. Let us really stay connected by remembering the power of a hug or kiss can’t be felt through a text message. I will always be a supporter of local libraries and book stores. And (perhaps most important of all) there is no app for gratitude.

Related Articles:

Peace Be With You – http://wileyschmidt.com/2013/04/21/peace-be-with-you/

Hope In Gratitude – http://wileyschmidt.com/2013/01/14/hope-in-gratitude/