Our discussion started with the Zika virus. None of us had ever heard about it before, so we began by filling each other in on whatever information we had read or heard about it since it began showing up in the news.

It was interesting to note that we each had different information. Not conflicting, just different. We quickly realized it was because each of us got our information from different sources. Newspapers for some, TV news for others, online sources for still others.

That led us into an entirely new discussion, one in which we branched off into the demographics – and by that I’m referring mainly to generational differences and preferences – of communication in general, and world news in particular.

I should probably mention that the group of people carrying on this conversation consisted of a few friends, all in our 50s, 60s, and 70s. So when we discussed our own preferences and commented on others, we weren’t exactly carrying on an unbiased or scientific evaluation – although we acknowledged that it wasn’t valid or accurate to say things like, “Young people don’t care about the news, or read papers anymore.” Especially when someone in our group pointed out that she has never been a newspaper reader, but she’s still well-informed, and keeps up with what’s going on in the world. She just gets her news from other sources.

“One isn’t better than the other,” someone else pointed out. “But one is better for some people than the other. The important thing is to keep up with what’s going on.”

His comment made me think about a commercial that was running on TV not long ago. It was for a pizza franchise, and featured people of different ages and stations in life talking about how easy it was for them to order a pizza, no matter what electronic device or method of communication they were using. The point was to get more peoplehain. ngis to keep up with what’ but she’ce it began showing up in  to order pizzas, of course, and to show them how easy it was to do. But the commercial also made the point that people have their preferred ways of doing things, including communicating.

I’ve written before about the confusion and frustration of trying to figure out – or remember – whether the best way to contact someone is by phone, text, email, or social media. Some people use one or another almost exclusively, so if you don’t use the same method when you’re trying to reach them, it may be days – if ever – before you hear back from them. It’s ironic that the more ways we have to get in touch with someone, the more difficult it can be to actually get in touch with them. Or to get a response from them.

It makes me all the more grateful for people like the friends I was with last weekend. Friends who can get together, have a casual and comfortable conversation the old-fashioned way – face to face – and share news, information, and opinions in a way that acknowledges and appreciates the differences and preferences that other people have.

The column “Find Your Buried Treasure” appears weekly in the Chanhassen (MN) Villager. This column was published on February 4, 2016.
©Betty Liedtke, 2016

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