Have you noticed how people aren’t talking much to each other anymore? I might be showing my age here, but it’s become blatantly obvious lately. Not long ago, I decided to just start the conversation with people I didn’t know; on the elevator, in the grocery store, wherever. And guess what? That’s all it took. People started talking back. They smiled and were so kind. Heartwarming, for sure. I just love Mississippians.
We live in such a technological society these days. We are constantly on our phones. Not necessarily talking, but checking other things. We read Twitter, texts, have Instagram, Facebook and the dinosaur; email. I say dinosaur because most people text instead of email or (shock) make an actual phone call. Can you imagine someone’s reaction when you want to see them in person to have a visit? Most likely they don’t have the time, but they say, “Hey, we can text.” Hmm. Let’s go back a little here.
So, long ago when emailing was all the rage . . . I learned a valuable lesson; notice what time the email is sent. Why? Because if it is sent late at night, well, let’s just say it can be read wrong. Or right. Depends on how you take it. I have a “friend” and I use this term lightly, that would start drinking too much, and send out emails to her family. She would say things she wouldn’t normally say if she was sober. Mean things, some even unforgivable. But forgive her they did, because she was family. Let’s just say they were nicknamed evil mails. Lesson here - emails can be read in a different intention than was meant. And a different tone of voice. Or maybe the way the writer meant, which wasn’t nice. Thus the term Evil Mail was born. I try to notice the time emails are sent. You should, too.
Texts can be read wrong, too. Most things written can be read wrong, unless you are very clear in the writing. I learned this recently with my last column. I had dictated it into my phone, under notes, because I was driving and didn’t think I should be writing. I loved being able to dictate. What a time saver. That is until I realized there is no spell check in the notes, or dictation. You have to edit several times, and not verbally. Siri definitely doesn’t understand the southern accent, nor when you dictate. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wanted to throw my phone up against the wall or on the street because of the frustration, but I’m too cheap because they cost so much these days. I might as well stop what I’m doing - driving - and just write whatever I am writing longhand. Or in an app that has spell check.
If you happened to read my last column, I’m embarrassed by a couple of mistakes. Cleats was misspelled to cleets. OK, so not a huge deal. Look - I don’t like mistakes. But Roanoke? Are you kidding me? Rowan Oak. Rowan Oak. Yes, I know how to spell it. William Faulkner’s home in Oxford. I know where it is. Hubby and I picnicked there many times when we were dating, and after we married. Fast forward to three kids later, we would take them there. We even sent out a Christmas card picture one year taken there. Hubby is a huge Faulkner fan. Reads Faulkner for fun. Not many people I know read Faulkner for fun. He was the English major before going to law school. And no - he doesn’t edit my columns. Because he would never let me submit anything, if he did. Why? Because he’s in them often. He just gives me too much material. So he sees my column in print, just like everyone else. That is, when I write one, which hasn’t been often lately.
Roanoke versus Rowan Oak. Roanoke is in Virginia. I was telling a story about meeting some Virginians. I mentioned Rowan Oak, but it came out spelled Roanoke. Lesson learned here. Write, edit, edit again, edit again. Find someone not mentioned in the column to read it with fresh eyes. Hubby volunteered to be my editor. Not a good idea. He’s in too many. Trying to keep peace in my family.
We are entering the holiday season now. Thanksgiving. Christmas. We need to concentrate on the blessings we’ve been given. At Thanksgiving, my little family goes around after the meal, and we tell what we are thankful for in this past year. It’s not new to a lot of people, but can be such a wonderful time. At birthdays, we go around and tell the birthday person what we are thankful for about them. Now, that’s a pretty wonderful experience. We also need to look people in the eye when we are with them. Have you ever been around someone who was talking to you, but really looking elsewhere to see who was there, and who else they could see? You didn’t have their attention really. Doesn’t make you feel very important, does it? Be respectful. Put the cell phones down, and turned off, when having Thanksgiving dinner, or Christmas celebrations, or whatever your family does. If it’s an emergency, there is a setting where if someone calls you twice in a row, it will ring, even if it’s on silent. So no excuses. Sit down and talk one-on-one with family members and friends. You never know when it’ll be the last time you are given the opportunity.
Make it count.
Carole Baily is a Northsider.