Mandan News

Dan Ulmer: There’s not much socializing with social media

Layout 1 (Page 1)Dear Vern,

The Cappuccino on Collins coffee klatch informed me that you wished I would write about something besides life at Lake Tschida for a while. Well I’m open to suggestions because wherever I go there I am and I don’t plan on leaving the lake until it’s finally safe for me to come back to town…

Summer has entered its doldrums and it’ll be August by the time you read this. Lake life is at its best, the flowers are in full bloom, the crops look good, and we prairie folks are finding it quite difficult to complain about the weather. However, I do have to report that during mornings and evenings the temperature has dropped to the point where I’ve had to wear long pants and a hoodie.

Of course, whilst we oldsters are out here flowing with the season every parent with school age children is buying school clothes and supplies. It appears that the months before school starts has ticked down to weeks and days… and summer is about to end for them… and once again I can’t help but complain that school should not start before Labor Day.

It is a meteorological fact that summer really doesn’t get underway until July in North Dakota, making July and August the most reliable months of summer. So what do our schools do? They start in August and cut summer short by at least three weeks… and we should all be perturbed enough to get our leaders to change the school schedules! Maybe it would help if Vern wrote a letter… what do you think, Vern?

So now that I got that off my chest I better get into something else, after all a guy can only say the same thing so many times before both his loyal readers just drop the paper and head off to something more meaningful than this… right Vern?

My smart phone, laptop, and such have made me as cyber connected as most folks are today. I text, facebook, and email along with the best of them so, like anyone else with these toys, I’ve been noted to lose myself in cyberspace.

However, there are times when it gets to be a bit much. The other day I took grandaughter Kelci and two of her friends into Elgin for breakfast. I sat across the table from them and it didn’t take long for all three of these middle-schoolers to pull out their phones and bury themselves in some sort of social media. So I pulled out my phone and started to play with it.

The kids looked at me like “Aren’t you too old for this?” and I responded with, “Why don’t we put the phones down and talk to each other?” They all looked askance at me and returned to their phones. I upped the ante and said, “It’s kinda rude to pick up your phone and ignore the folks around you.” They all looked askance at me and returned to their phones  I upped the ante again and said, “It’s kinda rude to pick up your phone and ignore the folks around you.” They responded with, “Well, you’re playing with your phone Dan.”

I gave up and they finally put down their phones when their food arrived. I had other errands to run and at each stop I asked if they were going to accompany me into the store. They said no, pulled out their phones and sat in the truck until I returned… and they continued to futz with their phones all the way back to the cabin. Offhand, I think their longest person to person chat may have been with the waitress when each of them ordered their breakfast.

Of course, once we returned to the lake where reception is at best weak they put their phones down and returned to lake life and Grandpa Dan was left to wonder about this thing called “social media” where face to face conversations take a back seat to online chats.

Here’s hoping that those around you enjoy talking to you more than their smart phones. How’d I do, Vern?