“Contactlessness”

Because of the pandemic, the word “contactless” has taken on a new meaning, or maybe a singular meaning.  I don’t know if that word ever occupied a meaningful place in our daily vocabulary.  For most of us, making “contact” with people and things was just part of life — not so today.

We have even developed icons to communicate it  . . .

Many of us have heard or made the complaint . . . 

“How do I get in touch with them?”
“There is no way provided to make contact with them.”  

Some businesses would not provide a phone number or an email address in order to directly contact them.  They purposefully avoided providing the opportunity and information needed to talk with them.

“Fill out this form and we will get back to you.”

At times, you found yourself paying for a subscription or service, and you hunted and hunted for a way to contact them and cancel. 

Sometimes, it was a war of attrition on the phone; who was going to last the longest as you were placed in an unknown phone cue and/or put on hold, sometimes for hours!

More recently, you can opt to  “chat” with someone about a problem or situation, but too often they do not have the answer or can resolve the problem, and you would just like to talk to someone — to make real contact with a real person and communicate audibly!

Add to that, texting, which can be used to avoid personal vocal contact.  You can keep the interaction “short and sweet!”  It is a way to avoid conversations that may be longer than wanted and/or can branch off in different directions. 

Nevertheless, one of the foremost created differences within God’s creation is that we can engage in “propositional language” [1]. We can communicate on a level that is not found anywhere else in the created world.  Books, magazines, newspapers, libraries, talking heads, speeches, music, art, sermons, lectures, classroom teaching, blogs, and podcasts all illustrate that foundational reality. 

Engaged in verbal and non-verbal communication is how we spend our day. 

“Solitary confinement” is a punishment.

Speaking to others personally is how we have been created as social beings.  The choice of words, vocal intonations, body language, visual clues, gestures, et al. are all part of what makes personal and/or direct CONTACT important.

Nevertheless, as we all know, some purposefully avoid contact. 

  • Sometimes, it is because they believe that they lack the social skills needed. They are introverted because they have not been very effective or successful at interacting.
  • Some, because they are just impolite, others were “never taught by mom and dad” how to properly engage.  Some are ill-manner and disrespectful by a lack of “education.”  They do not return calls.  They do not let you know that they received your text or email until it suits them or even never.  They do not give any update as to where they-we are in the process.
  • At times, guilt produces avoidance and silence.  They do not want to make contact because they know that they have been rude in not responding sooner, or that they have been wrong and do not want to deal with that wrong-doing.
  • Some find it a useful strategy.  It is a way to not deal with a problem or a difficult situation. “Hunker down” and ride it out with the hope that it will all fade away.
  • Add to that, selfishness.  Life is about them and revolves around them.  Contacting others happens when a need arises in their life, and they now need to contact to get the help or materials needed.  We all know how that works, a request for help from someone who hasn’t contacted us until they needed help.

Contact is part and parcel of a biblical faith, whether it be in evangelism, healthy church relationships, regular weekly fellowship, or shepherding the sheep.

While there has been an “acceptable” & significant shift away from personal and meaningful contact [2], the difference between contact and contactlessness has not been lost by all who have been created in His image.

We all know that . . . .

  • a handwritten note matters,
  • a meaningful response speaks a positive message,
  • a piece of mail with a handwritten address will more likely be opened,
  • allowing time to engage personally when a relationship has been injured makes a difference in the end response,
  • a promptly returned phone call / email / message conveys care and concern
  • having a “face to face” (even with Facetime) conversation is invaluable,
  • hearing a voice is important,
  • receiving a personal call speaks loudly, and
  • part of the grief at a funeral is the lost interaction and contact.

To do less is what we have been called out of as God’s people.  Personal, direct, meaningful conversation is what can and should make us different.  “Contactlessness” may be needed in a pandemic, but it is not Jesus! [3] [4]

 



1. A great read is the book by Mortimer J. Adler — “The Difference of Man, And The Difference It Makes.” 

2. There are various examples of that present-day shift.

  • Wedding Invitations via email
  • RSVP by text/email
  • Fewer handwritten letters
  • “Thank You Notes” with just a signature
  • Voice mail / Texting / DM
  • Social media

3. See: What Should One Rightfully Expect As A Response?

4. While there are biblical grounds for personal separation, not engaging with those who deny the faith, not responding to a fool (answer — but not like a fool, but as a wise man) in his folly, trying to maintain peace by not speaking your whole mind, such can become cloaks to hide behind, and disingenuously cited to support sinful attitudes and decisions.  Game playing is not a Christian virtue, no matter what the purported biblical explanation.

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