I stumbled upon an online debate the other day—you know, the kind where people with too much time and too little to do argue about whether technology is turning us all into emotionless robots. It got me thinking, and when I think, I write. So, here we are.

“The best time to come pay me a visit is by telephone.” – my grandpa, probably.

“A phone call is just a way to avoid the intimacy you only find on the wagon train together.” – My great grandpa, maybe.

“What’s a telephone?” – My great, great grandpa. 

But here’s my two cents: the depth and intimacy of our relationships aren’t dictated by whether we send a text, an email, or a carrier pigeon. It’s about the effort we put in. A relationship is like a houseplant—ignore it, and it wilts; water it with attention, and it thrives (unless you’re like me and can’t even keep a cactus alive).

Think about it: emails, texts, Skype, phone calls, even those archaic things called letters —they’re just tools. Like a hammer, you can use them to build something beautiful or to whack your thumb. And let’s be honest, we’ve all sent a text or two that was more thumb-whacking than beautiful building.

Remember when the telephone was the new kid on the block? For some, it was a miraculous invention, a way to hear the voice of a loved one miles away. For others, it was the perfect excuse to avoid seeing people in person.

Imagine if we didn’t have all these fancy modes of transportation. We’d probably know our neighbors a lot better, for better or worse. “Oh, look, there’s Bob, walking his goat again. Yes, Bob, we know, it’s a very nice goat.”

But here’s the kicker: whether we’re crossing the globe or just crossing the street, it’s up to us to make our relationships meaningful. Technology, travel, telepathy (okay, maybe not telepathy)—they’re just tools in our quest to connect. It’s on us to use them wisely, to build bridges rather than walls. Unless you’re building a literal wall, in which case, please continue.

So, let’s raise our phones, our pens, our carrier pigeons, and make a toast to making every connection count. And if all else fails, remember: a good old-fashioned conversation never goes out of style—unless it’s with Bob and his goat. Trust me on that one.

Stephen Boudreau serves as VP of Product + Content Marketing at Virtuous Software. For over two decades, he has helped nonprofits leverage the digital space to grow their impact. To that end, Stephen co-founded RaiseDonors, a platform that provides nonprofits with technology and experiences that remove barriers to successful online fundraising. He is an avid (but aging) soccer player, audiobook enthusiast, and the heavily-disputed UNO champion of his household.

Copyright ©2024 Stephen Boudreau.