“Reduce, reuse, and recycle” has become a familiar mantra and way of life for many of us, as we take steps to protect the environment. We have become more aware of the products we purchase, the foods we consume, and the waste we create. So, it is ironic how we do just the opposite with our relationships. In spite of, or perhaps because of, every conceivable form of communication at our disposable, relationships have become increasingly disposable.
We live in a world where we unfriend, unfollow, delete, block, and mute people on social media and tend to avoid them altogether. We stalk people we don’t know on their social media sites to glean information about them, rather than either take the time to get to know them or simply mind our own business altogether. We date and shop online. We conduct interviews and host meetings over the telephone or via video conference instead of in person. We look down at tiny screens instead of looking out at the world around us and the people who are right in front of us. We can connect with one another in dozens and dozens of ways virtually without ever having to do so face-to-face. As quickly as we can connect, we just as quickly can disconnect. If you have ever been broken up with via a text message, you know exactly what I mean by that, but that’s another story for another blog.
Don’t get me wrong. I appreciate how we can use modern technology and social media to connect with people around the globe, but I continue to grow disillusioned with how we just as readily use it to avoid meaningful interactions with one another. For example, with the introduction of Snapchat, we now can send messages to one another that seemingly disappear into cyberspace upon being viewed, even though nothing ever really goes away once it has been posted or shared. It all just seems so shady and sad.
We move from one relationship to the next without missing a beat, because the next person is just a click away. We put our lives on display for everyone to see, yet we cannot allow ourselves to be vulnerable with others off the grid. We preserve our planet and public personas while destroying and disposing of meaningful relationships. We have desensitized ourselves by living out life in the virtual world, where there’s always something or someone exciting and new to distract us from our real lives, where what really matters exists and competes with unseen faces and forces for our attention.
Maybe, I am like my friend, who declared himself to be “old-fashioned”, as we, again, attempted to figure out the logic and usefulness of the likes of Snapchat. Sometimes, I miss the days when marathon telephone calls, long letters, notes passed in school, and visits conducted in person reigned supreme. I wish that social media merely accentuated our lives rather than dominated or dictated it, in some cases.
Since we can’t turn back the hands of time, we can control how much and in what manner we use modern technology and social media to be a part of our personal and professional relationships. Let us not confuse the relationships we value with gadgets and apps that can be upgraded, replaced, and disposed of almost instantaneously. For if we do, we will lose far more than we could ever imagine and end up alone in a world that was meant for human connection.
That’s another story . . .
Categories: That's Another Story