Thursday, May 29, 2014
We walk around in the world under the mistaken assumption that people want to understand us. We blog, we talk, we explain. We tweet, we post status updates.
With a few notable exceptions, people don't really want to understand us. They want us to understand them.
"Seek first to understand, then be understood," said some famous person I don't remember.
What if it's really about connection, not understanding? I think that's why I am a compulsive social media checker; I can whip through three email accounts, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, and Facebook in five minutes, and I do so whenever things slow down (standing in line, sitting at softball, commercials watching TV, etc). I've turned into one of Those Assholes with their forehead resting on their smartphone. It's connection, not technology, that brings me back.
But technology is isolating. Sicily always jokes about being "alone together" when we sit on the couch, watching TV with our faces buried in our laptops or cellphones. If you can email, why call? And if you can text, why email? And if you can just leave a comment on Instagram, why text? Generation Y doesn't even email anymore, and who knows if the generation after them will even text.
The end result of this is disconnecting from the world by connecting to a device. I don't want that for me, and I force myself to be present more and off the screen. Difficult because my job does require a fair amount of screen time, but I can limit non-work hours spent in front of the computer. I'd like to get back to liking people as much as I like humanity, but it's difficult when I am trapped behind the pixels in my face. There is a reason it's called a "cell" phone...
Image by Mike Kline