I just got back from a Scout awards ceremony where a neighbor of hours received his Eagle rank. Eagle is the highest rank a scout can earn and takes years to accomplish. When I was a boy, I also participated in Boy Scouts and found myself enjoying the leadership around me, the training I received, the years of camping, fishing, and hiking, and most especially, the friendships I made along the way. I also earned the Eagle Scout rank and received letters of recognition from Reagan Nixon, George W. Bush Sr., and Bill Clinton, along with many other commendations and a photo in the Denver Post. I looked at this boy and wondered, "What will he do with this achievement?"
Over the past few weeks I have been interviewing candidates for a couple electrical positions in our company and have recognized a trend with the younger society. Almost every young person had a social disorder; some not so severe as others, but still relevant as evidenced by the awkward moments throughout the conversations we had. I had no issues with the 'older' generations but those around 27 and younger where really having a hard time. Why?!
Then it hit me, I was witnessing a generation of people who have lost the art of body language. This is where I impress or frustrate my wife with my simple solutions; and here it is, the rise in technology has given a way for our younger generation to communicate in ways not requiring body language. Texting, email, SMS, twitter, cell phones, even web chats, and video game chats are the backbone of their social platform. These languages have replaced body language with smiley faces, hash tags, bold/capitol letters, etc. Wouldn't that create such a catastrophic dinner scenario where we have forgotten how to show--I love it but not enough to eat it again without a smiley/blah face. :P Instead we have children plugged into their iPods never making eye contact, and parents wondering what to make of it. Stepping into ourselves, are we affected by it? What are the signs? How would we know if we were socially handicapped in body language and is it bad?
I believe a good way to know is by asking, "How would it be if we were socially advanced in body language?" Wouldn't we stand, attentive, with eyes and ears open to the instructions of our parents or advice of our spouse because we understood the importance of communicating respect, interest, and love? Would we kneel before our children and hold their hands as they expressed their heartaches, showing love and compassion? How would we feel if our boss sat by our side and spoke next to us, not at us, to explain the poor actions we had prior. We would know when our spouses were upset with us and when they were proud of us. We would know so much more about ourselves.
Let the Eagle Scout in all of us fly high this week. Put our technology down and allow ourselves to be immersed in the touch, sound, and flight of family life. Play a song on a real musical instrument, play a board game with your kids, hold your spouses hand and walk around the block or in the mall. Do what I like to do with my wife and try to interpret other couples lives in the mall and make up their scenario in real time. We may find that we are wanted and loved, or that some one wants our arms around them. We may find our every-day words sting ears or our distracted glances reduce trust from our partners. In any case, we will become more than we were before and will increase in love, understanding, and power to make a change in our lives.