Insecure but Connected: What 10 years of technology has done to relationships (and why me being in prison has given me an advantage!)
When I first went to prison Bluetooth was a technology that was just beginning to emerge as a luxury item. Fast-forward nearly 11 years and as I come out of prison, I see some disturbing trends that, quite frankly, make life a little easier for me and not for the reasons you might think.
I adjusted quickly to having a watch that tells me about my messages, heart rate and sleeping patterns (scary! and I never though in a million years I would or could talk to my watch) while simultaneously having Air Pods, my phone and a laptop all for means of communication. What I am noticing, though, is that when I suggest meeting someone for coffee in-person, it is met with a significant more enthusiasm than anything electronic. Honestly, people enjoy meeting in-person over anything technology can provide.
What I have not adjusted to is this phenomenon I have yet to name where 2 people will sit in their respective locations and be connected via phone and not speak. They will go about their day listening to someone breathe either by speaker phone or head piece as if that person is right there with them. This has been done to me and I instinctively end the call. No more talking, no more connected, pretty simple. If you want to stay connected, we need to be actually communicating. So many I have run across are perfectly content to have someone in their ear saying nothing. I am certain it’s a sort of pacifier for loneliness.
People are starving for face-to-face human interaction that is meaningful. Not the bank teller, not a man handing you your receipt under a plastic COVID divider but real, intimate human interaction and they way that the world is beginning to solve that problem is by staying on the phone in silence rather than meeting face-to-face. This may work for some but I, personally, cannot stand it. Nothing is more intolerable than knowing I can meet someone, yet we don’t so we can listen to the other breath in an effort to not feel lonely. Why not solve loneliness the way we are designed, with real human interaction?
I understand COVID and all that and in some cases it is safer to not meet. But very few. I have a few challenges for everyone who sees this:
- Meet with someone face-to-face at least once a week for the sole purpose of talking.
- End conversations by electronic devices where nothing is being said.
- If you begin to feel lonely, reach out to someone and make plans, in-person.
- Don’t watch any sort of media while you are on the phone. Turn your TV (or whatever you watch) off when you have a phone call. Not muted, but off.
If you want a trend that is just about to happen, I am predicting that anyone who communicates face-to-face will be more successful in what they are doing than most who prefer virtual or other, non in-person means. People are starving for human interaction and those who give that freely are going to be more successful. Hands down.
That’s just my belief. I could be wrong, but I assure you I am taking my chances in-person.