"Coffee is a language in itself."
- Jackie Chan
I've been to my local coffee shop more times in this single past semester than I have in my entire life.
Here's why: I decided a while back that, despite my raging-introvert tendencies, it's way better to talk to people face-to-face.
Today's world of messaging leads to shallow convenience. It's so easy for me to get caught up in a conversation online with someone and not think twice about what I'm telling them, or how I'm telling it. Tone is lost, so I find myself desperately hunting for emojis, or juggling the decision of whether to add "lol" to ensure the person I'm talking with recognizes my sarcasm, rather than taking me seriously.
Online conversations aren't all bad, by any means. I message and text friends frequently, and I've had a lot of great "talks" that way, because my best form of communication is the written word. When I'm serious about something, it works best for me to write it out.
But in casual conversation typed across a glowing screen, I miss the color of a person's tone, the tilts of their head, the way they slide their coffee mug gently around on the tabletop when they're thinking. I miss their reactions, whether they burst out laughing or chuckle quietly, and their frown of concern as they listen to me, really listen. I miss how they burst flustered into the coffee shop to tell me that they're usually always on time, but something was just off about this particular morning. I miss how they shrug and offer unmerited forgiveness the times when I do exactly the same.
I can't ask to try a sip of their hot chocolate when I'm texting.
I can't sit in comfortable silence with someone in Messenger.
And I can't ask the deep questions or tell the long stories and experience the same effect, the same impact, that it would have face-to-face.
Us humans, we were made for communion. We were made for sitting beside and across from each other at tables, eye-to-eye, sipping drinks and breaking bread and telling stories and making music with laughter. We weren't made to hide behind the screens, inside our homes; community is too important, too vital to our existence, even if it's just one person across the table from you at a coffee shop on a cold morning.
It may seem like a simple thing, meeting for coffee or tea or lunch. But when you make the effort to step outside the house and meet someone because you care about them, because they are worth your time, it paints a picture of image-bearers mimicking Christ, who met with us, broke bread with us, told us stories, laughed and cried with us. Face-to-face. Because we were worth His time.
So, in essence, I appreciate modern technology, how it allows me to stay in touch with people throughout the day and write down my thoughts when I can't articulate them well out loud; but I've come to realize how important it is to spend time in person with those people, too.
Here's to friends, family, and local coffee shops.
(And, let's be real here, gift cards. Because I'm a college student, and I don't always have four dollars.)
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Do you have a favorite place where you enjoy meeting people?