Those of us of a certain age not only remember typewriters, but having stationary as well.  These tools were often used to write old fashioned letters as a primary form of communications.  In today's cyber universe, though, email and instant messaging have replaced the forgotten art of actual letters that were sent in the form of mail.  Although not face to face, letters were a form of reaching out and touching someone that seemed more intimate than today's instant way to communicate.  And, it required more thought.

Add to this the power of the internet to deliver instant news, gossip, video, pictures and all sorts of media and people are even more removed from any type of physical contact with others or things.  We are fed the stuff of life from a cyber pipeline that reduces our need to actually interact with people.  Indeed, with the advent of sexting, we can even have virtual sex.

In essence, millions have become voyeurs to life--able to sit at a terminal and tap into everything from chat rooms and forums to porno.  Millions now experience sports in this manner, instead of actually playing something or going to the ballpark or stadium and interacting with others.  In addition, we are increasingly meeting potential partners or dates through electronic means. In the past this was done through finding clubs or social activities where you could actually meet someone.  Millions more experience sex through online porno or chat rooms.  So instead of the physical experience of having an actual relationship, they find gratification by watching at home while sitting in subdued lighting and staring at a monitor.

The arts of actual conversation and social skills are becoming lost arts.  We remind ourselves and help our children or grandchildren be aware that while technology has transformed the world in many ways that are wonderful, they should foster ways to avoid virtually becoming virtual voyeurs, void of a whole dimension of humanism.  That is, the ability to actually interact with others where there is actually conversation, laughter, and physical contact. And, while you are at it, encourage them to actually pick up and read a book. The feel and smell of paper can be a wonderful experience, not to mention allowing yourself to be transported to a different place or to experience a new adventure. Just the physical contact with a book, rather than a plastic keyboard or mouse, seems to help what you are reading come more alive.

In case you are wondering, achieving this is finding ways to substitute 'actual' for 'cyber' as we live our lives in what has become a virtual world.  Who knows, it might just help prevent a forgotten art from becoming a lost art as keeping us in physical contact with our worlds.


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