I went to a favourite restaurant recently to get a coffee fix, and sat working while watching my fellow patrons. There were those who sat starry-eyed, hanging onto every word of their tablemate’s conversation. Those who worked, heads down and focused. Those who laughed with fellow girlfriends on the post-school-run coffee grab.
Everyone is different and it is fascinating. Every person has a story, like a book just waiting to be read.
I love taking time out of the office and working remotely like this for a few hours. If I could watch people for a living, this would be my chosen career. People are intriguing. Complicated yet so simple. Age, interests, upbringing, area, culture. Those obvious and other more intricate factors all colour how people look, interact, and appear.
But what struck me was how many couples just ate in silence … more interested in emails and social media on their mobile devices than in the person sitting across from them.
We all know that human interaction is important, make that vital, to human health, both mentally and physically. But have we forgotten how to interact?
There is a strange spotlight nowadays on the individual. Media very much focuses on bringing people into themselves. It’s a selfish society with most messaging and content on ‘self’. So partner that with most people having a smart phone and access to data in some capacity, and it does become somewhat concerning. Technology allows us to think we are connecting more, but these relationships are fickle, and only skim the surface.
Technology brings us closer only to actually distance us from ourselves.
The problem in today’s age is that, although we realise the need for relationships, we neglect them for other distractions, with social media and streaming content being definite factors.
We don’t live in the moment anymore because we are so obsessed with capturing it in a frame.
Perhaps it is just me, growing older and sounding increasingly like my mom. But perhaps it is more about how we manage the process moving forward. My eldest has access to certain platforms, but I am strict about when and how she interacts.
After her time is up she needs to be a ‘normal’ kid, playing outside and actually living in a real tactile world, having real experiences, and creating tangible memories.
Rules. Guidelines. Everything has its place.
Sure. The world evolves and moves forward, but at the same time the world still needs people to connect, and to connect on a level that is meaningful. We are happier, more balanced, and certainly more positive when doing so. We need to interact on more than just a digital level to foster experience and discover meaning. We need to be cognisant of not getting lost in the technology addiction.
Instead of becoming static voyeurs just thinking that the ‘like’ button is enough to denote interest in someone’s life, let’s actually remain the multi-dimensional people we are … the types I love watching so much.
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