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Rules of engagement

Students at St. Joseph Academy in Brownsville, Texas, check their smartphones during lunch. Columnist Mary Morrell says “our culture has become such that we are more comfortable engaging with technology than we are with other people.” CNS photo/Tyler Orsburn Students at St. Joseph Academy in Brownsville, Texas, check their smartphones during lunch. Columnist Mary Morrell says “our culture has become such that we are more comfortable engaging with technology than we are with other people.”
“No road is long with good company.” Turkish proverb
 
Every great relationship needs someone to initiate the conversation to get things going.
 
Great personal advice? Certainly, but on the website where I found this quote, “start the conversation” was the first of several tips on how to improve your social media engagement.
 
Be attentive, spark intrigue, know your audience, have a sense of humor, share compelling data – translate those into rules to improve personal relationships and your friends and loved ones will be happy.
 
If we followed the rules of engagement for social media marketing in our personal relationships, whether with family, friends, or even with God, we would be making real relationship headway.
 
But our culture has become such that we are more comfortable engaging with technology than we are with other people.
 
Recently I came across a video of a popular Italian-American comedian, Sebastian Maniscalco. He was new to me, but the topic of his act caught my eye -- The doorbell rings: then verses now.
 
He described how when the doorbell rang 20 or more years ago, the whole family jumped up and went to the door, delighted they were to have company. Mom brought out a store bought cake she was saving for just such an occasion. A pot of coffee was made and life was good.
 
Today, he demonstrated, when the doorbell rings, everyone drops to the floor and is shushed by parents into silence. Dad mouths the words, “Did you invite anyone over? Who invited someone over?” He commands somebody to grab the sword from under the couch and instructs mom to do the army crawl out of the kitchen so whoever is at the door won’t see movement and know someone is home.
 
The performance loses a lot in a simple text translation, but I had tears from laughing. All comedy is an exaggeration of some kind, but for me this skit rang true. When I was young we didn’t hesitate to open the door when the bell rang.
 
We didn’t have store-bought cake but my mom always had a box of Jiffy muffin mix ready to pop into the oven. The white and blue Corelle Ware percolator was ready on the counter for the unexpected guest and we often had family and friends popping in just to visit.
 
Today, when the doorbell rings we know instinctively it’s not a visitor. Everyone is too busy, and you just don’t drop in on people in this day and age. You make an appointment. If there’s someone at the door, it is probably someone proselytizing, a salesman, a utility company coming to turn off your service, or the mailperson needing a signature on a certified letter, which is never good.
 
Because we live in an age of fear, we now have security systems built into our doorbells just in case a visitor is really a criminal casing the house. I mean, who else would be stopping by without calling first?
 
Social isolation, including isolation from God, has become a reality for us in a time of increased social media use. While technology is speeding ahead in light years and employees are required to stay abreast of the latest and greatest, our real honest-to- goodness facetime with the people in our lives is being tossed aside like yesterday’s android phone.
 
The truth is we cannot have healthy relationships without investing time and presence. We need both for our loved ones and for God.
 
A friend of mine shared some of her dad’s wisdom as he reached the end of his life. He said it was important to get your priorities straight – God, family and work, in that order.
 
The great thing about God is you don’t need to call ahead and He loves company.

--Mary Morrell
 
Last modified onMonday, 23 January 2017 08:52
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