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home : opinion : columnists May 30, 2016

10/31/2012 12:59:00 PM
Technology rips holes in human relations

Bill Forhan

Before there was Facebook and "social networks" people actually got together and shared time over a cup of coffee or a game of cards. Today with all of our technology we are more disconnected and less socially skilled than ever.

People rarely meet on a face-to-face level and as a result when they converse they have no real understanding of how or why that other individual responds the way they do. Have you ever noticed how easy it is to yell at someone or be dismissive to them on the telephone? When they are right in front of you it is much more difficult and you quickly learn from their "non-verbal" behavior if your arguments are making an impression and whether that impression is positive or negative.

We may be better "connected" but we are becoming woefully dysfunctional socially. Witness the current election. We are talking at each other not to each other. We surround ourselves with those who think exactly like us and build a wall against anyone who would challenge our carefully built view of reality.

But this column is not about politics. It's about how we regain some sense of connection. How we learn or re-learn to respect each other on a personal level so we can grow through our diversity.

One way is to turn off the computers, the smart phones, the television and find an activity that forces us to share time with others. Join a golf league, bowling team or card playing club. I like cards, primarily bridge, because no matter what your age you can play it all year round and you don't need a lot of expensive equipment just a simple deck of cards and a table.

I learned bridge at a very young age sitting in our little camp trailer with my mom, dad and sister after it was too dark to see a "White Wulff" (that's a dry fly used for fly fishing!) on the waters of our favorite stream. We'd play till the wee hours on Friday and Saturday summer nights. As my sister and I got better at the game we joined a local duplicate bridge club in our hometown of Butte, Mont. and played at least once a week. Between hands we often discussed everything from the cards to politics to peoples health and life in general. And we mixed with people across the generations, many who had extensive life experience that helped us see the world a little differently than our generation.

According to a number of recent studies bridge has many health benefits. For young people it improves their skills in numeracy, problem solving, concentration and memory. For the elderly it has been shown to keep the brain stimulated and active even delaying the onset of dementia. And a recent study conducted by Professor Marian Diamond at Berkeley University has shown that playing bridge stimulates the immune system reducing the chances of infection.

My friend Arnold Bucholz from the Leavenworth Senior Center prompted me to write this column when he asked if I would put another notice in the Community Bulletin Board that his Thursday Bridge club needs players. It seems many of the traditional crew have sensed the chill of winter and are now headed south. It occurred to me however, that this is an opportunity to talk about the importance of real human interaction not just bridge.

The elections are over and no matter who wins we will have to live with each other. Let's resolve to move forward rebuilding our individual relationships on a deeper and more personal level. Then maybe our politicians will find a way to do the same. Make a resolution now to get out and mingle with others through some shared activity - and work doesn't count. Try to find one that mixes with the generations. If you don't have a bridge club in your community - start one.

If you would like to sign up for Thursday bridge in Leavenworth call Arnold Bucholz at 548-3484. You don't need a partner. There are many other individual players in need of a partner and players rotate between tables after each set of hands. You might make some new friends and you'll improve the quality of your life.

Bill Forhan can be reached at 509-548-5286 or

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