Let’s get together
The internet has allowed us to do some pretty amazing things. For example, I have an idea and I write it out on my computer. I can then upload the file and send it out to potentially be read by thousands, if not millions, of people around the world. Amazing. Never before has it been so easy to share thoughts and stay in contact with friends around the world using social media.
But I’ve noticed that the phrase “social media” is something of a misnomer. There is really nothing “social” about it. Most of the “socializing” takes place while we’re alone, sitting on the couch, stuck in our cubicles or eating lunch by ourselves. We sit next to loved ones silently while each checks his or her messages and comments “how cute” on the latest picture of an animal sleeping in a food bowl. While we can send text messages to our friend it’s not the same as speaking to him over the phone. We keep up to date with family members via facebook but only by quietly scrolling through pictures they’ve posted and maybe “liking” them.
This kind of socialization is superficial at best. Modern communication has been broken down into cryptic words and symbols referencing dinner plans or, worse, a quote from someone else that has been shared and posted to a thousand walls. By limiting ourselves to this kind of interaction we can’t see that there may be something troubling our loved one below the surface, something she may really need to talk about but can’t because, after reading everyone else’s posts, she feels inadequate.
The quality that makes human beings truly special is the ability to communicate with one another verbally and non-verbally. This can only be accomplished with face to face communication. It seems to me, there was a time when neighbors stopped to speak to one another on the street or at the market. Now, we seem to be locked in our homes, shopping online and unaware of who our neighbors are. Even when we go out in public, we tend to isolate ourselves by staying buried in our smartphones, playing word search or texting unimportant drivel back and forth instead of introducing ourselves to new people and getting to know one another.
I feel that two of the biggest challenges facing society are “ignorance” and “want”. When we refuse to speak to one another, when we refuse to open ourselves up to new ideas or perspectives that differ from our own we breed ignorance and ignorance breeds fear which leads to further isolation. When we limit our communication to the superficial and the made up, when we falsely present our lives as uncomplicated and without struggle, we breed discontentment and want in others. “Why can’t I have what they have?”, “Why am I struggling and getting nowhere while they’re on easy street?”. The feeling of want leads to cynicism and a “what’s in it for me” attitude.
I feel we need to be honest with one another and I feel we need to be together more. Have you ever sent an email with a specific intent and the recipient misconstrued your meaning? Why? Because effective communication between humans includes many non-verbal cues. It’s the way you’re carrying yourself. It’s the inflection in your voice. It’s a little wink or a raised eyebrow. It’s the little things.
I know life is busy. We generally work to much for too little reward but, if we continue to isolate ourselves and pretend we’re being social because we have a twitter account, we will continue to struggle as a society. So, I ask you to go out and meet some new people. Get together with friends for no reason. Join a volunteer organization and help your fellow man. Visit with a lonely person at a local nursing home. Get involved at your child’s school. Venture out for a fun night on the town. Introduce yourself to your neighbors. Get to know each other.
Whatever it takes, however you choose to do it, reconnect with people. We need one another whether we want to admit it or not. There are folks who feel alone who just need someone to talk to, to laugh with, to share with. One of those folks may be you. Today is the day to become more social so let us, just for a while, turn off the tv, step away from the computer and get together again.