“Get on Facebook. Are you on Twitter? Oh you must!” These seem like wonderful opportunities to connect with others, but are they, and other similar avenues, really helping us to connect with each other?
When was the last time someone smiled at you when you walked down the street? When was the last time someone looked at you when you passed them on the street?
The newest form of non-verbal non-communication is to walk around pretending you are busy checking your email or texting a response to someone obviously more important than the human beings you are pointedly ignoring. Please don’t even get me started with the texting or talking on the phone at the dinner table, or while driving a car. A two-handed texter almost took me out one night when his car started to change lanes because both of his hands were on his keypad, and not the wheel of his car, which was exceeding the 55 MPH speed limit as it did so. Thank you, traffic angels for the ‘save’. If I were a cat, I would have lost at least two of my nine lives on that highway. Oh, and he let me know what he thought of my horn-honking which happened to be what brought his eyes off his lap and back to the road. You know the gesture I am speaking about. It’s the one-fingered wave.
Try this experiment: Make eye contact, or at least try to, with everyone you can today. The checker at the gas station who hands you your change. The barista at the coffee shop where you get your morning jolt. The cashier at the grocery store or other place you may go shopping today. I want you to mentally make note of how many times even these members of what used to be service-oriented industries don’t – or won’t – take even a second to look you in the eye as they hand over your change and receipt.
This does not bode well for us. This continued separation trend, parsing the separation that already exists even more, makes me anxious. If we’re no longer even aware of the people around us, how can we care about them?
The other interesting trend to note here is not one that I would have thought was possible. As a famous model says (Heidi Klum, I’m not going to make you guess) on her television show every week (yes, I ADMIT it! I watch Project Runway!) “One day you’re in, the next day you’re out.”
I always get an interesting response when I tell people that no, I am not on Facebbook, or Twitter, or LinkedIn, or Google+ or any other incarnation of a social networking site. I guess that means I’m “out”. But I have found a comfortable niche right here in the world of blogging. The people who stop by here are, for the most part, interested in what it is I am taking the time to write about. Some of them even make thoughtful comments which often results in – dare I say it – an exchange of ideas.
But even this is not true connection. There is something about being in the actual presence of another human being, especially if that human being is someone you love and respect, or admire in some way. There is something to be said for real human contact. When you are breathing the same air, sitting at the same table, looking into the eyes of another human being and listening with all of your heart to what it is they are saying, there is a level of connection that cannot be found through even the finest that technology has to offer us.
I am going to visit my daughter in September, and an am looking forward to being in her energy again. It has been too long. Do we get on each others’ nerves from time to time? Of course. That’s what mothers and daughters do. But there is something so sweet about being able to see the twinkle in her eye when she laughs, to feel her fall into my heart as she gives me that first “I haven’t seen you in so long, Mom” hug that cannot be replicated long distance.
We need each other to be truly ourselves. We need to be connected to each other in authentic ways. If we cannot find a way to reverse this trend, I fear for our future as a species.
In the days before the digital age, even before the age of vacuum tubes and radio, we connected with each other in a profound way. We sat around the camp fire at night, and listened to the storytellers. Maybe it is time for the new storytellers to step forward. Parents, turn off the gadgets and take 15 minutes to read to your young children. If they are older, then choose a classic book you enjoyed when you were their age, buy two copies of it, and read it at the same time they do so you can talk with them about it. Person to person. No texting allowed.
Find creative ways, little ways, to connect with the other human beings you encounter throughout your day. Look someone in the eye. Just for an instant, with your gaze, acknowledge their presence. Even if it’s the homeless guy on the freeway entrance with the sign.
We must reconnect with each other. While we still can.
You who have the Light, what are you doing with it? ~ Paul Claudee
All original material posted to this site is (c) 2012, Julie Marie. All rights reserved.
I apologize for the length of this post. I violated my “rule of 600” tonight. I didn’t want to break this train of thought into two separate pieces, so I left it as it came through me.