Riding the subway downtown to a meeting I couldn’t help but notice everyone staring at their devices; and then it dawned on me how, in this age of social media, we communicate with people on the other side of the globe, yet lack the desire to yackety-yak with somebody sitting an inch from us in real life. What the heck?!
One answer is FEAR, according to Jon Wortmann, executive coach and author of Hijacked by Your Brain: How to Free Yourself When Stress Takes Over. We fear rejection, or that our innocent social advances will be misinterpreted as “creepy” says Kate Bratskeir at the Huffington Post. We are so worried about being judged and looking weird that we feel more comfortable staring at our digital devices, than engaging with people in real-life, real-conversation.
Our judgements also plays a factor. Judgements of people, places and things; ideas and notions. We judge and it diverts us to the device in our hands, even as we slouch an inch closer to solitude of an intimacy light existence. “We approach people with a ‘dual sense’,” Wortmann says. We immediately try to judge how a person can be useful to us by analyzing whether talking to that person is a “good” use of our time. We often miscalculate. “As opposed to looking at each individual as a whole, as someone you can learn from, we see them as either ‘valuable’ or not.”
We can’t measure a person’s value or what they offer if we don’t take the time to talk to each other. YOU CAN’T JUDGE A BOOK BY IT’S COVER? We aren’t even looking at the cover, these days. We’re doing drive-by living with the human beings in our lives. If you really want to judge a book you have to look at the cover, then read the pages inside it, filled with text.
The same goes for understanding and knowing fellow humans. We need to engage in conversation before we can assess what they might be, or mean, in our lives. Yesterday coming back from DC on Amtrak I struck up a conversation with a woman who delighted me and made the trip richer.
Communication through most social media lacks nonverbal cues, which is 93 percent (Forbes.com) of how human beings communicate. That’s alarming considering social media is the dominating communication forum in many of our lives. How can we truly understand each other when our interactions are conducted using such a low percentage of our abilities?
At Breathe Life Healing Centers, we take technology and social contact to to connect family members from all over the planet. We use a virtual classroom to make our program Family Class, connect family and friends in an effort to connect those who aren’t in the same room with one another – or even the same country. A virtual classroom is a stand-in for the real thing but even so has audio, and streaming images of each person speaking eye to eye, heart to heart, about how they might have “more good – less bad” in their lives.
Most of us, including myself, use social media everyday. Yet establishing balance is key.
I just bought an old-school “Clam Shell” phone so my divorce from having a computer phone is real and lasting. If it’s in my pocket, I yearn for it’s false connection and drive to get things done.
With so many different methods of communication available to us, why not edit and use them all in doses? Explore the web, and congregate with the masses; spend time talking to your neighbor or getting coffee with a friend. Next time you’re on a subway, try talking to the person next to you. You may be pleasantly surprised how much better you’ll feel in doing so.
Some things in life are best learned in person.