Getting Back in Touch

Reflecting on a time when communication—between friends and even strangers—was more meaningful.

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    Lisa Cerone

2010 was the year I stopped talking to my friends. It seems we silently agreed to start texting instead of wasting 30 seconds on pleasantries before getting to the point, so we could get on with our day. 

Years before that we stopped answering the landline in our house. We figured anything worth communicating would surely find its way to somebody’s screen eventually.

I do believe concrete information is best delivered digitally. But in hindsight, it was a mistake to let technology start facilitating personal exchanges. 

Texting has no vocal nuance and leaves none of the tactile impressions that cards and letters can evoke. And my friendships lack an intimacy they once had. All the emojis and cap letters I can cram into a 140-character post cannot begin to convey a feeling of loss. 

But recently something began to shift. It started when I asked my daughter what she wanted for Christmas. She answered, “There’s this thing called a typewriter. It’s a keyboard and printer in ONE machine and it doesn’t need a charger.”

I’ve watched her find cathartic pleasure in literally—physically—banging out her teenaged angst on the noisy, clunky keys. She credits the typewriter for helping her get over a broken heart.  

She is writing poetry again. She hasn’t done that since a well-intentioned teacher electronically forwarded a deeply personal poem without her permission to the whole school. 

Her words typed directly onto paper create a private, one-of-a-kind document—not an option when producing something digitally. Without a delete key or the judgy, red squiggly spell-check line, an authentic flow of expression is unleashed. And physically holding her work in her hands somehow makes the words matter more. 

This inspired me to pull out a stack of love letters my husband wrote while we were dating. Without remembering the words, I only had to hold the beautiful paper they were written on before I was flooded by tears and overcome by the deepest sense of love. 

It has all made me realize I need to add a tactile element back into the way I communicate. I want to hold beautiful, soulful things like invitations and stationary. I want to send love letters or dash off a single sentence or two that conveys and preserves an idea worth sharing. I want to add a sensory element when making a connection with someone. 

A decade of electronic communication has left me in a state of sensory deprivation. This sort of explains why I spent a joyful day designing and printing 500 gorgeous business cards even though I don’t have a business. 

And as I sit here staring at my screen, there’s an untouched stack of exquisite paper and elegant note cards from Soolip Paperie & Press. (I can’t stand the thought of destroying them with my sloppy cursive.)

Clearly I haven’t figured out how exactly to bridge the distance I’ve created since we all stopped talking. But I’m hoping 2014 will be the year I get back in touch.

Lisa Cerone is an actress and CEO of Ever After Productions. She lives in Encino with her husband and two kids.