In the 1980s, AT&T encouraged people to make long-distance calls using the slogan “Reach out and touch someone.” It was an appropriate catchphrase, and although there is almost no such thing as “long distance” anymore, it still rings true, so to speak.
In this day and age, when almost everyone has a cellphone literally attached to their hip, we rarely “reach out and touch” anyone. Most of the time that expensive little mobile phone does everything but make phone calls. There is a lot of surfing of the net, virtual friending and posting on Facebook, creating selfies and texting.
We text everyone. We text the babysitter to set up a schedule, our coworkers to change a shift, our husbands to pick up an extra item at the supermarket, and friends to share some good news or not-so-good news. It is a wonderful thing in this busy world that one can simply text a question and almost immediately get an answer without having to make a call. But we all know about the text.
When the answering machine made its appearance, also in the 1980s, we loved it! You could call someone and they would know you made the effort to call them, leave a lovely message, and the great thing was that you never had to take the time to actually speak to them. You could knock off all the dutiful calls you had to make in short order, no questions asked. A “congratulations on an anniversary” call, an “I’m sorry we can’t make it to your party” call, a sick call to the office, and even, unfortunately, sometimes a sympathy call.
The text has gone above and beyond the answering machine. One need not even record a human voice. People can literally sit in the restroom and text their family member that they are thinking of them! It’s one thing to text a quick message that requires a quick answer; it’s really another when that is your mode of intimate communication. More contact, yet less connection.
Imagine what it must be like to do someone a big favor and go out of your way in some tangible way and receive a text, “TY.” And for parents, while the phone does indeed ring all day long with robocalls from phony IRS or credit card scams, the one phone number parents wait for on the caller ID is that of their children. For some parents, it simply does not happen. What I personally would give to hear my parents’ voices again!
Texting, like any other tool, can be incredibly useful and time-saving. But, having said that, it is not a tool that builds relationships per se. Relationships and real connection can only be achieved through sincere contact, caring what the other person thinks, and actually wanting a response. LOL and the other multitudes of silly acronyms don’t hit the mark.
Hoping this Thanksgiving season we take the time to “reach out and touch someone.” You really have no idea how much it can mean to that person.
I wanted to point out that in Rabbi Moshe Bloom’s “Parashat Chayei Sarah: Chevron — City of Many Names,” (November 22), the column states about Chevron, “The city was destroyed during the Great Rebellion in 68 CE, but briefly reconquered by Shimon bar Kochba in 133 CE. Josephus Flavius describes his conquest, noting “a tall terebinth (elah) … standing from the beginning of Creation until this day,” (Wars 7, 9:7 [sic; it should read Wars 4, 9:7]).”
However, Josephus did not describe Shimon bar Kochba’s conquest of Chevron. Josephus, who was born around 37 CE, was likely long gone by the time of bar Kochba’s revolt almost 100 years later. Josephus’s The Jewish War dealt with the First Jewish Revolt that resulted in the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE. The book’s chapter dealing with Chevron does mention a Shimon but it was Simon ben Giora, a leader of the revolt, who was publicly executed in Rome as part of Vespasian and Titus’s triumphal procession and ceremonies.
Joseph I. Lauer
Brooklyn, New York