Friday, June 12, 2015

Front Porch Communications Network by John Dersham

Televisions, computers, smart phones, laptops, note books, IPods, IPads, Netflix, social media, Skype, DVD’s, DVR’s all to make life easier, more efficient, more organized and more in contact with everyone and everything, right? Got to get to work, to church, to kids sports events, run here, run there- never stop, text message got to stay in touch every second, every day, right? So with all this technology that makes everything you do faster and easier why is there such a disconnect in being connected? Instead of using our devices as a tool to speed up our work and our personal lives like it could, we have made electronics our life and our entertainment. You know our culture has changed when you’d rather text a person then call them or even worse, text them when they are in the next room from you.  Even worse than that, argue with them, criticize them or slander them via text or email or social media when you’d never sit them down, look them in the eye and tell them that same information. With all of this said, I’d like to introduce the Front Porch Communications Network. It is where, we the people (politicians too) talk through issues face to face with the intent of establishing a middle ground, a compromise. In family life, in the work place and in politics, solutions are established “for the people and about the people”. It is the place families meet in the evening and sit and talk and look at each other and enjoy the birds chirping and the crickets scraping their legs together and the smell of the air and the feel of the breeze with the sun sinking low and falling into darkness. You can argue and look at each other while you are doing it. You can talk of days gone by and tell funny stories about what each other did once upon a time. You can pray, you can talk about science and history and math. You can talk about the future and you can love one another and feel bonded by your closeness. I think one of the reasons we are not working out differences in opinions in politics and in our home lives has to do with the way we communicate. Instead of looking at each other face to face and talking through our issues with the intent of reaching some compromise we are communicating our beliefs electronically and in the case of politicians via radio or television. The problem with this system is it distributes the opinion but does not offer a discussion of opposing viewpoints and once spoken to the world in the media the opinion becomes locked in and compromise becomes an ego issue. The opposing viewpoints are then distributed on TV and radio too and no real discussion has taken place between the parties involved. Compromise is worked out through joint efforts between people talking to each other and working with each other with the intent to find a viable solution that everyone can agree upon, or live with.
When I was a kid, friends and I played outside till dark in the summer. No thought of staying inside. At that time the only thing on TV during the summer were reruns from the same year. At that point we had CBS, NBC and ABC.  There were no choices for shows being produced and viewed as new episodes throughout the year, like now. None the less our culture was to be outside in the evening and our parents were too. All of the adults were sitting on their front porches. We would walk the neighborhood. There were sidewalks and you’d drop in on people on their porches. If you wanted to talk, there was no need to call them, just walk to their house and they’d most likely be on the porch which was very communal. It was a way of life and no one was looking for privacy while on the front porch. They were relaxing, feeling the pleasant evening air and talking with neighbors and friends, in person. I can still hear my relatives arguing with each other on the front porch about politics, children and social opinion. They would tell each other how wrong they were, but in those conversations they always had some form of resolution to the issue and invariably someone else would say, well that might work. I think we’d get along better and accomplish more if we’d spend a little more time using the Front Porch Communication Network and less time alone reading and watching other people’s opinion with no discussion. In a world that has a format for everyone’s opinion to be heard and accuracy of detail or correctness of information is not required we need to step back a little and do some face to face time.