When I go to little towns, I am always surprised at the discontent I find. And New York, too often, has looked across the sea toward Europe. And all of us who turn our eyes away from what we have are missing life.—Norman Rockwell
The techno-driven American void is at an all-time Catch 22 status. We have a real problem here.
It’s the famous word in every household.
Get off your phones and eat dinner. Hello? Hello???
Here is Aunt Sally in Washington showing me the apple pie she baked today.
Wish you were here.
Smiles. Aww. The new baby. He’s so cute.
We can’t decide if we want to live with or without our Smartphones or if the good outweighs the bad. We need them for work and carpool connections, but the risk of exposure to some virtual gangrene is ever-present.
It wasn’t so long ago, that I wrote about the American emotional void and my remedy – a word of hope tucked inside a greeting card. A handwritten note.
Through the years, it has always been the greeting card that was the crutch of emotional expression when someone celebrated a milestone or endured a loss.
Back in 1960, greeting cards impacted the world when Helen Steiner Rice secured her place in American history as the poet laureate of inspirational verse.
It was the greeting card once again in 1985 that inspired the Off-Broadway musical Nonsense by Dan Goggin.
The greeting card had become our go-to helper for a love connection in a world where emotional poverty has been on the move just as quickly as technology advances. Though it was steadily rising, the need for human connection has subsisted through the generations.
Mother Teresa once said, “The greatest disease in the West today is not TB or leprosy; it is being unwanted, unloved, and uncared for. We can cure physical diseases with medicine, but the only cure for loneliness, despair, and hopelessness is love. There are many in the world who are dying for a piece of bread but there are many more dying for a little love. The poverty in the West is a different kind of poverty — it is not only a poverty of loneliness but also of spirituality. There’s a hunger for love, as there is a hunger for God.”
Our cookie cutter American affluent worlds in the burbs have become the leprosy of our souls. People need to be reminded that they are loved more than ever and while one of the better ways to do it has always begun with initiating a simple message via snail mail, there are a million more modern ways to keep connected in the ever-disconnected yet plugged-in world.
Today, the greeting card’s mini-me is the popular art form of a graphics interchange format or a GIF message. Sure to bring a virtual hug, GIF messages operate powerfully no matter the distance without using words.
While in years past, the audio card was king when it showed increased popularity among consumers. If you remember, this was partly due to companies like Hallmark and American Greetings partnering with country music stars to piggyback on humorous messages of some of the worst country songs ever written:
If the Phone Don’t Ring, Baby, You’ll Know it’s Me; She Got the Ring and I Got the Finger; You’re the Reason Our Kids are So Ugly; Her Only Bad Habit is Me; I Can’t Pass the Bar and There’s One on My Way Home; If I Would Have Shot You When I Wanted to, I’d Be Out By Now; I’m So Miserable without You, It’s Almost Like Having You Here.
Today it is the GIF keyboard on our Smartphones that affords as much corny joking as a bad country song. Lucky for the techno-isolated soul, it is one of the most popular here and now quick cures to emotionally connecting with others like us as we are all on the move.
While the dinner table still matters more than ever, if your head is buried in your smart phone, why not start by GIFting someone who needs you to say something without saying anything at all? So, you may not be named as Poet Laureate of America, but you are sure to make someone’s day in a world that can’t seem to take its eyes off the screen.
But most of all, don’t let too much time pass before you finally lift your eyes and look to the left or the right. Take the time to step away from the counterfeit world and hold your loved ones to your breast, for you were made to love with the kind of abandon that leaves others no doubt of how special they truly are.