When the first McDonald’s opened in 1940 it paved the way for the fast-food explosion here in the U.S. and the promises were plenty. Great food, great price, super fast and you didn’t even have to get out of your car.
Nutritionists will tell you that while fast-food is “food” it’s not “real” food. Meaning, it doesn’t have the nutritional value to sustain your body long term, it’s not balanced, includes a variety of additives and has excessive amounts of certain ingredients. Try living on fast-food alone and you’ll end up with body shutdown (see SuperSizeMe).
So Americans have been sold a counterfeit version of what “real food” is. And we absolutely like our counterfeit version. It looks like food, tastes better than food, is faster than my own cooking and simply costs a couple bucks. What’s not to like? We all enjoy a good burger!
Turns out, decades after the golden arches began glowing into the night, everyone now knows that the super fast food did come at a great price…our health. Obesity, diabetes, heart disease and a host of other medical conditions plague many Americans and our counterfeit food is most definitely a factor.
Today we live in arguably the most connected culture the planet has ever known. But I wonder if to some extent, we have accepted a new counterfeit? It’s easier, faster and more convenient. It’s delivered how, when, and where I want it. It has been billed as something that will allow us to stay “even more connected” only to foster a false sense of true connectedness. It has shrunk in relevancy and context. This new counterfeit? Counterfeit communication.
I know I’m missing some, but follow the progression. First it was in-person communication, then it was the letter, then the telegram, then the phone, then the wireless phone, then email, now txt, status update and tweet.
What began as slow, fundamental shifts in the way in which we communicate with one another has changed rapidly in the last 5-10 years. The relevancy and the context in what people communicate has shrunk. Current generations don’t meet in person for a couple hours to “catch up”. We don’t write letters. We often don’t even talk although we have the physical and technological capabilities to do so. We communicate in short bursts of information limited to 160 characters, plenty of status updates or some new photos.
I’m not advocating we close our Facebook accounts, toss our cell phone plans, grab an ink quill and parchment and don the designer apparel from Little House on the Prairie. I’m simply asking us to evaluate how technology has changed the way in which we communicate. The good and the not so good. To be more aware of how we as individuals, friends, couples, families and communities are being changed by technology. To not blindly embrace it or fearfully reject it because “that’s just the way it is,” but to intentionally evaluate the role it plays in our lives and the effect it has in every aspect of our lives.
Over 70 years ago fast food made great promises. No one knew then what we know now. But, we have an opportunity to evaluate counterfeit communication today. To hold it up and compare it against communication that is deep, meaningful, relevant, transformational and profound. To live a life that consists of a well-balanced, healthy diet of real communication and be ever on-guard for the counterfeit and all its’ side effects.