Last night I had a intimate chat with my nephew, he is a 17 year old young man who originates from Cameroon Africa. He has only been in this country for a few years, and I have only known him for 1.5 years or so, well maybe closer to 2 years now, but what ever. In truth he is not my natural nephew, I knew his dad, not very well, through the church I am youth minister at. His son was in the youth group, and to make a long story short, to help him and his boy out, i let his son move in with me, so now he is my nephew. But back to that chat.
Last night at dinner he is usually very quiet, and does not offer up much information, not much more that a grunt or two. But some of that is typical teen age communication but with him it’s also a cultural thing, he was taught to be seen not heard. And that’s what he tries to do, over the last year or so I have worked very hard to get him to open up, to talk to me and other adults more freely. It’s been a hard road, but it has had it’s moments, like last night.
the topic of our conversation is of no real concern for the point of this blog, what is of concern is the importance of intimate conversation. We have gotten away from intimacy in general, our conversations are done via text messaging on our cell phones, one of the latest trends is to text your boy friend or girl friend that you are breaking up. My nephew asked a young lady out via a text message. I was not happy and told him so, to me, asking someone out is an intimate act and should be done face to face, or at least over the phone, voice to voice. The ability to text someone removes the direct contact, removes the personal touch. It makes it easer to have no investment in to the relationship. Sure there are times that texting is called for, or Instant Messaging (IMing) someone one. I IM people all the time, unless it is important, unless it calls for intimacy than it is a face to face contact.
The body often times speaks more that the voice, we can learn more for the language the body is using than the language the voice is using. With text messages and such, all that is lost, we speak in bits and peaces, using icons to display emotions and words that haven’t even been added to any dictionary as of yet.
When I talk with my nephew I always make sure I can see him and that he is looking at me, often times he looks down or away, and misses the body language of the conversation. I try to explain the importance of looking someone in the eyes when you talk to them, but in this world of texting it seems to make no cense. I am sure he would rather just text me a reply and be done with it.
This all to often is what most teens, and now even adults would rather do. We are loosing the ability to have intimate conversations by allowing our youth to continue hiding behind there phones. As parents and care givers we have a responsibility to teach our children how to be intimate, and we do this by example, but forcing them to look at us when they talk to us, but explaining that texting does not replace face to face or voice to voice, that important things are not reduced to “OMG” (Oh my god) or other such abbreviations, and that a 🙂 does not truly equal a smile.
If we continue down this path we run the risk of living in a world of no intimacy, just a quick text and off we go. So last nights conversation was truly of no great importance except he did communicate with me, he looked at me and he smiles and responded with feeling in his voice. That is much more than a text message ever can be.