Quietly, we are allowing ourselves to creep away from humanity while excusing it with technology. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love technology! From our phones to televisions to MRI’s and CAT scans to supercomputers and so much more. My thoughts I’m writing now are on an iPad that I’m seldom separated from. It’s happening in more areas than just our technology, but let’s begin here.
We all use the latest technology to better our lives, or at least that’s what we convince ourselves we do. Instead of walking across the street to check on a neighbor, we’ll send an email or even text them. On my last birthday, I received scores of texts, tweets, Facebook messages and emails most wishing me a generic “Happy Birthday.” Know how many cards I received, with actual messages inside? One! Now if you’re saying I should quit complaining because so many others don’t receive any…then you’re missing my point. As a matter of fact, you’re making my point!
More and more we’re enabling technology and many other factors to allow us to withdraw into our own little world. I get it, we work so hard to make ends meet and in some instances not even that. Our kids are facing forces and factors in their everyday lives we never imagined. The instant communication with the rest of the world and the 24-hour news cycle increases our anxieties as much as it increases our knowledge. We’ve entered an age where so many people don’t want to learn anymore. They simply want to pick the news channel they agree with the most and instead of hearing “the” news, they want to hear “their” news. People want to get their “news” from the organization with their ideological slant. When we start doing this, we begin to stop hearing the actual news and simply sit like Mr. Potter from “It’s a Wonderful Life” surrounded by our “yes” men nodding approval, whether it makes sense or even if it is in factual. Look, it’s just common sense that we are attracted to those things we agree with, but sometimes the truth isn’t on “our side.” Occasionally, we need to have the courage to find the truth, especially when it is contrary to our hopes. That courage is seeping away little by little, day by day.
So, back to the neighbor across the street for a moment. It’s easier to send a text than to walk across the street and knock on their door. It’s easier to send a private Facebook message than to call. While these things and many more all might be easier; does that mean they’re the right things to do? As individual human beings, can we allow ourselves to begin being sucked into what’s easier while understanding many times this means being pulled away from what’s right?
So, what can we do? Well, I think there are a few things.
Step out of your comfort zone…
This can be as simple as watching a different news channel one night a week or once a month. Or asking yourself some of the questions we’ve discussed here and see if you do or have done any of these. Write your questions and answers down, then a month from now, revisit them. And see if your answers changed or if you feel any differently.
Control your mobile devices, not the other way around…
Using your cell phone, Twitter, Facebook, snapchat, Instagram, etc… to keep in touch, be safe, find out what is happening, make plans, have fun and so many other things, is great! Just limit yourself and your kids and if appropriate your grandkids. Make time for yourself away from the “devices” then appreciate the time you’ve just “made.” Allow yourself to relax. Shower with no news on, turn the phones and iPads off when you eat and actually taste the food again. Shut the TV off and all those devices when you have a conversation with someone. Allow yourself to listen to them and realize they’re doing the same to you.
Care about others as much as you say you do…
Start small! Instead of sending a tweet or text, pick up the phone and give them a call, for no reason at all, write out a short note and send it to them in the mail. When we eventually start thinking about that neighbor across the street or across town, take the next step and walk over and knock on their door.
(I’m tempted to say, just imagine what you would enjoy, but that’s wrong! It’s not about you, it’s about both of you!)
Make a conscious effort to ask yourself how you can use your technology, devices, news sources, entertainment options, etc., to move closer to people instead of away from them! All of the ideas we’ve talked about here will take planning and practice. Some will be easier than others but all of them have the possibility of working to make the lives of others better, not to mention our own lives. If we enable ourselves and allow them to work.
Maybe…and I know this might be a stretch…just maybe you might even bring this up with your family or friends or coworkers and discuss it. See what they think or what ideas they might have to bring you closer together instead of further away.
(I know…crazy huh?)