For all our ability today, I can’t help but think that we are looking at a time in our history where communication is harder than it has ever been. We have changed our world to be shortened to talking 140 characters at a time. Stories or news bits have to hook a reader within the first three seconds or they have dismissed you and gone on to the next thing. We pride ourselves on having large numbers of followers on our accounts or blogs and even friends on Facebook, but we don’t have any lasting relationships with other people. In some ways, we have gone backward.
There is a lot of demand for our attention. How many of us sit down at the end of the day and automatically turn on the TV at home just to have some background noise. Or when we watch TV do we also have at least a smart phone or computer open and operational at the same time? Odds are we probably do. Now before I continue, let me say that I am just as guilty of this as anyone. I live in the same world and have developed some of the same bad habits as everyone else. I see these things and try to make a conscious effort to start moving against them.
It’s not necessary to check Snapchat every five minutes. If you are texting with someone for five minutes straight, you obviously have more to say to them – pick up the phone and call them.
Our brains need the stimulus – the next new thing, the next piece of information to take in. It feeds our compulsion to get the endorphin high we get when we go to our phones. Sorry folks, but it’s true: it’s an addiction. As a result of a fast paced world where messages and notifications bombard our screens throughout the day, we don’t have the attention span to go through a conversation with a person face to face or read a book. When did we write to each other anymore and send a message that didn’t instantly come back with a reply?
I’ve tried to build up pen pals here in the past few months. It doesn’t take long to compose an email and send it to someone else. It’s an opportunity to talk with someone and learn about them. Oddly enough it was one of my favorite parts of the movie Julie and Julia. In it, Julia Child has a pen pal relationship that is one of her most cherished friends. In watching the movie, I thought to myself, no one does that anymore. If you talk to someone else for too long they start to think that you want them in a romantic relationship or something like that. I think the value of a lasting friendship with someone, regardless of gender, has been lost. How many true, lasting friendships do you have? Odds are, if you have more than three, you are far ahead of the curve.
(Ok, this next part turned into a little bit of a rant)
Life gets busy. Trust me, if anyone knows that to be true it’s me. Consider though, if you reach out to someone to start some kind of semi-regular correspondence, you have the ability and interest to carry on the relationship. It seems to be the thing lately to start writing and then just let it go by the wayside. Was this something you just wanted to do or did you get bored? Did you lose interest? Did is seem like too much work? I can’t help but think that if you looked at the time you spent doing other stuff that really had no value; a few minutes could be spared to write someone.
(Ok, I’m done)
We have progressed very far in our ability to communicate with each other and share ideas. Why then is it harder to actually talk with other people? Do we try to take on too much? Are there too many thing that vie for our attention? Are we just seeking the next high of a tweet, text, or message alert? Maybe all of the above. Don’t forget what you may be missing out on if you find yourself moving too fast. Take a moment, take a breath, and take a look around. The time and energy you would put into something of more quality will provide a better worth and return than just the endless chase for numbers on social media.