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Something missing from today’s society

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The other day, my daughter and I were stopped by an older gentleman in the Canadian Mennonite University parking lot after partaking in the local Seedy Saturday event.


He asked my daughter, "Why are ghosts afraid to cross the road?" She didn’t know so he told her, "No guts." He continued with another joke, "If all the cars in Canada were pink, what would we have?" Pink being her favourite colour, she was especially anxious to hear his answer. "A pink car-nation," he provided with a smile.


My daughter and I continued to our car with an increased bounce in our step and a chuckle in our hearts. My daughter couldn’t wait to get home to share these jokes with her dad.


This brief encounter and the smile that ensued will now travel via my daughter, her father, her friends, teachers, my friends, work acquaintances, and maybe even through you.


All from just a moment of simple person to person contact.


In this day and age of "don’t talk to strangers," it’s nice to see that some people still throw caution to the wind and manage to make good old-fashioned connections.


Now, when I look around at people on the street, I wonder how much we are all missing with the increased popularity and convenience of iPhones, iPods, iPads, and the like.


Sure, music on the go can be a plus and we may be connecting regularly with our circle of friends but are we missing out on genuine human contact?


So many people are lost in a world designed to fit, and focus our attention, in the palm of your hand.


Where will this technology lead us? Once we all succumb to these forms of technology on a regular basis, even the simple act of asking for directions will be redundant.


When will we reach the point that we no longer require face-to-face human contact to go about our daily business? Am I too late? Is that time already here?


I can still remember a simpler time when it was not unusual to get a hug on the street from a total stranger. Sounds crazy, right? Today, an act like this is unheard of and could be considered down right creepy; even dangerous or illegal.


Maybe we’re reaching out via technology because it seems safer than direct contact. These days it’s more the norm to be chatting, texting, tweeting or otherwise connecting with friends and strangers via a keyboard rather than communicating face-to-face.


And while I can’t imagine going back to a day without my cell phone or computer, I think we all need to make a concerted effort to include human contact and random acts of kindness in our daily lives.


A smile, a thank-you, a compliment, or maybe an antidote or joke offered to a total stranger might just make someone’s day and start a chain of goodwill.


I didn’t thank the kind gentleman that stopped us in the parking lot that day, but I wish I had. He opened my eyes to a world I’d been missing.


With any luck he will read this and know that he made someone’s day.


Christine MacKinnon is a Winnipeg-based writer.


Neighbourhood Forum is a readers’ column. If you live in the Metro area and would like to contribute to this column, contact jim.timlick@canstarnews.com.

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