“You’re hypocritical.  What you just said is hypocritical to everything you have ever done, said, or believed.  You are a hypocrite.”

Ouch!  I opened my mouth to respond.  It remained in a circular and gaped position for several seconds as my mind processed the proper response.  I closed my mouth.  I thought, “He’s right, but…”

Our discussion was about technology, and the potential use of technology in school visits.  I had just told him about a program that would allow me to present to kids — say, a large group of high school kids — and they could tweet their questions or comments to me.  I saw it as a way to potentially engage the shy kids.

“They could just send me a little message, it would show up on the screen behind me, and I could respond to it,” I said with visions of graphics already dancing in my head.

My 16-year-old went ballistic.

“So, it would be so hard for someone to do this?” he asked, raising his arm and waving his hand above his head as if he were in school and was requesting the answer to a question.  “What about face-to-face communications?  What about getting off the computerized gadgets?  What about ‘real face time‘?  What about live conversations?  Huh?  What about that?”

Grrr…  He was right.  I do tend to rave about the over-use of technology and how it is slowly eroding society.  I advocate the benefit of real-time everything:  Real-time conversations.  Real-time get-togethers.  Real-time sports.  Real-time interactions.  Real-time author visits, where students can not only see the author, but meet her, hear her speak, watch her move, talk to her, and sometimes offer a hug.  Nothing trumps a real-live visit for the author or for the kids.

“But I’d still be there.  I’d still talk and tell stories and show them things.  This would just be another tool for the Q and A part.”

“Whatever,” he dismissed me.  “It’s not like you ever listen to me anyway.”  Our face-to-face conversation stopped when he left the kitchen with his snack.  I felt as if he’d dropped me as a friend on Facebook.

I pouted.  Maybe I didn’t need to learn this new technology, but I wanted to.  I was excited about the possibilities and wanted to see what it could do.  It sounded like an interesting way to encourage feedback, but on the other hand, why couldn’t they just put up their hands to ask questions?  Why did they need gadgets?

I was picturing a huge conference hall with hundreds of kids, maybe it would be hard for me to hear their questions.  That’s when I could use this, for the big groups, and only with high school kids.

Two heartbeats and I pictured my visits with high school students, usually a bunch of kids who are keen on writing.  I wouldn’t need this technology with a dozen teenagers sitting around a table.  I pictured my other school visits in classrooms and school libraries with the children sitting on the floor and eagerly waving their hands to comment or ask a question.  Dang.  I didn’t need this technology, not a bit.

But still, I was intrigued. I want to learn it and understand it, to see where it could take me if I didn’t so love face-to-face interaction with kids as I watch them becoming a part of a story.  It will also help me when I become so famous that I can fill more than a school library with fans.  Won’t they be impressed?  Probably, not.

They’d probably be most impressed by hearing a good story well told.  Like, how often do they see that?

© 2012 Sue Farrell Holler