Sunday, July 18, 2010

Technically Isolated

Why do we avoid each other?

As an older (pre-cell phone) human, I am often amazed by couples walking down the street, each staring at some handheld device, oblivious to their surroundings or their partners. I am saddened by people at restaurants paying more attention to their cell phones or Ipods or videogames or Blackberries than to the other people at the table.

Is this new? Only technologically speaking.

A few years back, we avoided each other by watching television.

Before that, reading newspapers and listening to radio.

Before that, rigid social mores and restrictions kept servants, women and children seen but not – in any way -- heard.

All this avoidance is rather astounding to me (the older human) who over the last several decades of my life has come to understand that relationships with other humans (of whatever age) is what gives our lives richness and value.

Because I live alone, I have to work at making connections. But this would be true even if I did not live alone. Relationships are hard work. And no one is perpetually pleasing. So relationships are not always fun.

Still, the value of rubbing two (or more) perspectives together yields greater depth to our understanding of our life and times. [If we don’t insist upon being ‘right’ we can actually learn a great deal.]

Not that being alone is terrible. It is in fact a good idea to step out of the ‘race’ and figure out where you are going. But staying out, avoiding dialogue, locks you into your own mind and opinions.

Perpetual isolation is not just boring, it’s unhealthy. We are a gregarious species. Spread the word. [In person.]

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