How well do you know your friends? If you go shopping, can you pick out exactly what they’ll buy? Can you order them lunch without asking what they want? Can you tell just from their face if they have a secret or are angry about something?
How many people, if any, do you know that well?
We live in an age when it’s really easy to communicate, but we don’t do it. Instead of calling a friend or sending a card in the mail, we check their Facebook status (at the same time we check the status of our 150 other friends and relatives). It’s cold, impersonal, and takes five seconds. We don’t have to answer them if we don’t want to, just hit “like” and we’re done! Rather than take them out to lunch on their birthday, we tweet them our “Happy Birthday!” and go on about our “busy” lives.
But does this make us happy or are we left feeling alone and unfulfilled? If it’s not satisfying when someone tells us “Happy Birthday!” in a tweet instead of a phone call or in person, why do we do it to each other and assume it’s okay?
Sit down in a public place and watch people. You’ll find them on their phone, even if another person is sitting next to them. Waiting in line, you can start up a conversation or meet someone new, but not when you’re on your phone!
Recent studies say people today are even more isolated and depressed than ten years ago, particularly teenagers. Is it because our ability to communicate is falling by the wayside? We’re in the habit of talking at one another, not to each other. A Facebook status update isn’t for a particular someone, it’s to let everyone know, at one time, what you’re doing. That’s fine if you need to get out news fast to a lot of people, but let’s face it, most of the time that isn’t the case. Being “one of the crowd” when getting news stinks. What’s better? Hearing good news with two hundred other people, or having someone meet you for coffee and burst out with, “I got a job! … I’m going to Hawaii! … or I’m getting married!”?
The internet used to be a means of communicating globally but with this new rash of “self-syndrome” (giving us ways to talk at people) it’s no longer a way to invite discussion. Blogs go unanswered, ideas are never debated, and no one gets feedback because we no longer know how to carry on a conversation, or respond in more than 40 words (the twitter limit).
Our society is starving for meaningful relationships, for connections, for conversation, but unless the people looking find others willing to actually communicate rather than talk at them, after awhile the “seekers” give up.
And then no one is talking to anyone anymore.