Recently I have been pondering how in a world where technology connects us, there seems to be a disconnect in how we know each other, including individuals we have a closer, more emotionally intimate relationships. I have experienced, been guilty of, and observed the “busy” conversation. No details given, just a glossy overview. For example I will use my dog Harry. Me “Hey Harry how was your long weekend?’ Harry “It was busy.” Me “What did you do?” Harry might share more information about what made Harry busy OR Harry might say “A whole lot of stuff.”
Now I realize this is a simple example of what occurs in some exchanges with some people, yet it does happen. Rates of loneliness are on the rise. In an article in NPR on January 23, 2020 stated “More than three in five Americans are lonely, with more and more people reporting feeling like they are left out, poorly understood and lacking companionship, according to a new survey.”
Last night I watched the movie “Patch Adams.” It is an oldy but goody based on the real life story of Dr. Patch Adams. The movie begins with Patch being in the psychiatric hospital due to his thoughts about suicide. What Patch learned in the psychiatric hospital and carried into his life including going to medical school is the art of getting to know each other regardless of who you are and what you do. Patch got to know people by asking about them, their dreams, desires, who they are, and their name.
“Getting to know someone else involves curiosity about where they have come from, who they are.” Penelope Lively
Technology is playing a role in the decrease in communication. Technology has it’s uses and many of them are helpful. Yet the other side is how our use of technology is diminishing our social interactions. We use shortcuts instead of actually taking the time to talk through a problem, or plan. The meaning of what an individual types can lead to all sorts of misinterpretations.
An article in The Conversation by Melanie Chan shared “My research into digital technologies indicates that phrases such as “word of mouth” or “keeping in touch” point to the importance of face-to-face conversation. Indeed, face-to-face conversation can strengthen social ties: with our neighbours, friends, work colleagues and other people we encounter during our day.
It acknowledges their existence, their humanness, in ways that instant messaging and texting do not. Face-to-face conversation is a rich experience that involves drawing on memories, making connections, making mental images, associations and choosing a response. Face-to-face conversation is also multisensory: it’s not just about sending or receiving pre-programmed trinkets such as likes, cartoon love hearts and grinning yellow emojis.”
Since COVID19 hit the time I walked the fur-babies and went running changed due to a work shift. What also occurred was an opportunity to have conversations and pleasantries with neighbors I had not seen or that I had not taken the time to stop and talk with. We shared names, bits and pieces about each other. It was delightful. Even though I was still working I could have been too “busy” when I was out and about. I am so glad I got to know a about a little bit about these amazing people.
Patrick Rothfuss said “When someone is giving you a piece of their life they are giving you a gift.”
There is great power in feeling connected and that someone cares enough to listen and hear you. We all need to feel valued in our humanness. Every person is worthy of being treated with dignity, compassion, and conversation. None of us, myself included, is too busy to talk with someone you know, or don’t know about life, interests, the world, the weather, our dreams and desires. We all matter. Being connected to each other matters too.
My challenge is to start talking and asking questions of our friends, family, neighbors, the cashier at the store or the person taking your order at a restaurant. I feel we can begin a ripple of conversation and connections between people. We can strength our relationships and ourselves. I am all in. Are you?
May your getting to know you be with you💜