Sometimes I feel like we no longer exist like we used to — in flesh and bone.
Our warm, soft faces have morphed into the cold, digital squares of filtered pictures on Instagram, the stories of our lives reduced to the one-liners and emoticons on a status update on Facebook or Twitter.
We live spectacular and wide-eyed on cameras, ‘platforms’ and social networks — but our eyes glaze over in real life, reflecting the glare of our phone and computer screens. Dead men walking.
Honestly, I’m as guilty as the next guy when it comes to succumbing to the lure of online networks and social media sometimes. The validation is comforting. It tells us “we exist!” and “we matter!” But the irony is, the reason we’re losing ourselves is because we’re so busy seeking approval we’ve stopped actually living.
We’ve fashioned ways to live larger than life for all the world to see, but feel smaller about ourselves in endless social comparison. The popularity of the ‘selfie’ illustrates perfectly how much we’ve turned our lenses away from the wonders of the outside world to being preoccupied with the swollen, distorted reflections on our mobile mirrors.
It’s easy to see social media as the enemy, something external, when really, we are the perpetrators. We’re solely responsible for killing the very meaning of what it means to be present with someone, to truly savour a moment, to live not perform.
We lose our ability to listen as carefully as we used to, we’re more easily distracted by the bing! of the message alerts on our phones, and find it difficult to hold anyone’s attention for a long time. Are we becoming less interesting? Or less interested in others? My hunch is it might be both.
It’s worrying, but all hope is not lost. For those of us who long to experience the beauty of real, warm conversations again, all we have to do is be the kind of person worth having a conversation with. That could mean being great listeners, being completely present, being genuinely interested and positive, etc. It all starts with the individual. One beautiful conversation at a time.
I’m done typing. Let’s talk.