I think it's funny how passionate I can be about some things. Like I'm sitting here getting ready to write and I can feel the energy all over my body because I’m beginning to embark on a subject I feel very strongly about and when I come across subject matter I dig, things just seem to flow.
Earlier in the week, I was listening to an audiobook on social intelligence. Yes, I'm a total geek in the area of what makes us tick and how to work with those things to have a better life, but I digress. This book made it clear in no uncertain terms that we as individuals and as a society are becoming more and more of a bunch of isolationists.
It began innocently enough, in fact, I remember "it" since the evolution of this state of seemingly "blissed out isolation" started back in the 70's as far as I can fathom. I believe there is a point slightly ahead of what I'm going to mention here but think "Walkman" by Sony. The "Walkman", debuted on July 1, 1979. It was a device that held a cassette tape and came with headphones so you could listen to it while you did whatever it was you wanted to do. It was big and bulky, but incredibly popular. And yes, I had a couple during their rein.
Enter the first phase in this tale of isolation I'm beginning to weave. We then had Blockbuster in the 80's with their VHS tapes, Netflix and Amazon in the 90's, Stitch Fix and a plethora of other "once a month" subscription services you can belong to in the 2000's. Over the past few years, things like "Click List" at grocery stores where they pull and bag the grocery list you send in online so you can just drive through and grab your goodies have skyrocketed in popularity.
What do all these things have in common? You get to stay home. You grab them and go home or as the years have gone on, you don't need to leave your home at all. Oh! And once you are at home, you can stick headphones on or earbuds in and be alone even more. Let's face it, those things are like a sign letting everyone know you are not interested in interacting. I see them in public now more than ever, while people shop, kids are out to dinner with their parents etc. they’re not just for the gym anymore.
Don't even get me started on the Bluetooth devices that have people talking to themselves all over the place. Like the annoying "Nextel" devices from the late 80's, I have thought more than once that a stranger was speaking to me only to find out they were talking to their ear or neck. At least the Nextel had that annoying chirp that gave you a clue that they weren't talking to you.
Can you see the pattern? Closing ourselves off more and more? Or is it just me?
Time to talk about the flip side of the above and why I don’t believe this is a good trend, at least in my humble opinion.
First and foremost, we are all human. Race, nationality, ethnic origins aside, we are still 99.9% the same. Isn't that a fabulous statistic? I love it. We are all too quick to try to find the ways we are different but truth be told, we are not at all.
On top of being 99.9% the same, we are also social creatures. Not kidding, it's not just in our nature to be social, it's in our DNA! We crave interaction with friends, touch, laughter and the like. We think we can get it all from YouTube because after all you can watch "Friends", learn how to do Reflexology on yourself and see millions of funny videos, but really? Is that how you want to spend your life?
I also learned that most Americans spend a staggering 5 hours a day in front of a television set, that doesn't even take our mobile devices into consideration and how much time each day we spend staring at that. That figure takes the time per day closer to ELEVEN hours when mobile is added in, but that doesn't include texting or actually TALKING on your phone. (Remember when we used to do that? Talk on our phones?) Holy moly!
I may not be good at math but we're looking at 16 hours of tech a day, toss in some probably less than fabulous sleep (Gee, I wonder why?) and how much time is left for that human interaction I said we were literally "hard-wired" for?
I do not sit here (in front of my computer) self-righteous. I sit here semi-reformed and sharing why you just might want to consider making some changes in your life. Is it easy to work all week and go out on the weekend? Maybe not, but will it bring more balance into your life? Yes.
I know you can make plans with friends and want desperately to "flake" on them because you now don't feel like going but once you're there, once you settle in and the conversations begin to flow, aren't you glad you did? Don't hugs still feel better than emojis? Isn't it fun to attend a show, concert, workshop or something exposing you to things and people you didn't know?
In the end, isn't that what LIFE is all about? Real life, real time, interactive, meaningful experiences? And let me be clear here, some of the best times in my life have occurred with just one person. How about you? You don't have to "pull out all the stops", you just have to get up off the couch.
The bottom line is this. Can you go to work, go home, have your food delivered, your entertainment delivered and live the rest of your life that way? Yes. Seems that's definitely the direction we continue to be headed in. In fact, many restaurants and retail chains in this country are going under for that fact alone. People don't want to leave their homes.
This trend has much bigger ramifications to me beyond the local mall closing. I don't want to be home all the time. Will my choices of experiences continue to dwindle as people continue to believe that "blissed out isolation" is the way to go? I don't believe for a moment that it is.
I believe we THINK it is but I also believe I have never seen more overweight, anxiety-ridden, depressed souls in my 1/2 century on the planet as I do now. Correlation? I think so, with every fiber of my being.
In the end, this piece is simply here for your consideration. I hope it encourages you to reach out to someone you love spending time with so you make a "tech free date" for coffee, a glass of wine, dinner or to learn something new together.
I think the realm of bliss lies deftly in the middle. Some tech? Sure! I have learned beautiful things and have met equally as beautiful people because of my access to tech. I just find on a personal level, my best "online interactions" often lead to in-person ones.
I would love to hear what you think. We seem to believe "turning in" is where happiness and peace lie, I believe "heading out" helps us fill that space in a depth we've rarely if ever imagined.