My phone has been ringing. Now is not the time to hit “send to voicemail”. It’s not the time to scroll, tweet, or text. The social media game needs to be dialed back. Physically hearing another persons voice or seeing them across from you needs to happen.
Former and current athletes, media and longtime friends just want to talk. The conversations aren’t comfortable. They’re not easy. But we are conversing with our vocal cords rather than hiding behind a screen. Media isn’t the main problem for the current strife and unrest in our country, however, it’s a big part of the problem and may ultimately do enough damage to destroy ours and several generations to come. For some reason people believe what they read on Facebook and Twitter or what is presented on Fox News, CNN or MSNBC or radio as gospel. If you’re trying to hit one down the middle, as I and many others in our profession attempt to do, we are viewed as “Fake News” by one side, or de-friended and shouted down by the other because we aren’t telling them what they WANT to hear, opinion based on fact be damned. The video of George Floyd doesn’t lie. We all saw a murder. Yet there are those who are disgusted with the protests. Why? Protesting is our right. Protesting means people are putting their phones in their back pockets and letting their voices be heard.
Monday night I heard Suns announcer Eddie Johnson tell the story on his Sirius XM radio show about a time he was pulled over and had backup officers called on him in Flagstaff during a Suns training camp. His violation was failure to turn on his blinker to change lanes. He was held for over an hour and a half. An African-American friend of mine broke down and cried the other night while we were having dinner in downtown Gilbert. He’s a former NFL player who has done well in his post career. Since the death of George Floyd, he’s walked into work and at times has heard things about African Americans that aren’t acceptable. It breaks his heart and causes tears. A longtime friend called on Tuesday afternoon and asked “Do you think I’m a racist?” We had a pretty intense conversation about race and discrimination against women for over an hour. On Wednesday afternoon a friend shared how watching the video of George Floyd has caused him so much anxiety that he doesn’t know what to do. Some friends have gone off the grid. I’ve tried to check in on them, but “poof” they’ve disappeared. My business lunch yesterday at Tempe Marketplace was primarily a conversation of race between three white middle-aged men. We sat down at 11:30 and walked out to our cars a little after 1pm.
What I am finding is that TALKING and having deep, meaningful dialogue within and out of my circle of friends is helpful. Perhaps that’s why social media has become less and less part of my day, and I’m spending more time on the phone or Zoom with people of all colors, religions, backgrounds. Give your thumb a break. Quit scrolling and start talking with your vocal cords.