How do we know when we feel heard? Really heard. What signals are we hoping for? Are we hoping for one eyeball to look up from a phone to acknowledge that we’re in the presence of one another? A nod? A grunt? A single glance? Is there such a thing as interaction anymore? No. Really. I’m asking.
As one who is hyper aware of behaviour, and how we walk and talk in this world, these unspoken words, and trust me they’re unspoken, has left the art of conversation and effective communication to fend for itself.
One could ‘blame’ social media for our lack of focused conversation, and yet that’s a cop out. One should know that when conversing with another to put down their phone and look another in the eyes. When did we accept this to be part of the way we communicate – Thumbs on the phone looking down while carrying on a conversation with the person in front of us? Are we not responsible for 50% of that interaction?
There have been countless number of times when I’ve been in a meeting and people are texting away while others are speaking. When it comes to my turn, I pause. And pause. And pause, until people look up from their phones and offer their attention. Yes. Offer. Their. Attention. Only then do I proceed. Otherwise, what’s the point? I find when I repeat this ‘pause’ over and over again at a number of meetings, people finally clue in. Sadly, I have to train them. And I do. Otherwise nothing would change. All the while I’m thinking; “What an enormous waste of time.”
Case-in-point; My twin brother is in Canada from California teaching a semester at a University on “How to Break into the Entertainment Industry.” He has 250 students. When I asked how it was going, he said: “I have no idea. All I see is an ocean of people staring at their phones and texting. It’s only when I ask students how they find the class, or they voluntarily come over to me and say; It’s my favorite class!” My brother then looks at me and says; “I’m baffled. And ticked off. And teaching sucks because students don’t seem engaged. At all.” Interestingly, and more often than not, I’ve heard these exact same comments from many educators.
On the flip side – IF we were to ‘blame’ social media, and take the cop out, where, in fact we may be texting, scrolling, and viewing on any number of different apps and platforms too much … then are we to ‘blame’ for our own loneliness, disconnection, isolation and yearning, yes yearning for real relationships? And IF social media were to ‘blame’ would we even know if others are feeling the same way that we are? Would we dare admit that social media is creating a barrier to human social interaction? Or are we confused thinking that in fact social media is allowing us to be even more social? You see how messed up this is?
Will things come full circle like fashion? Where we’ll start to really connect with one another just like bell bottoms are coming back? You know, where we’re face-to-face with another human being having a conversation.
Mark my words, you’ll start to see, if it hasn’t started already ‘professional human curators.’ Connecting people in meaningful ways. No smart-phone devices allowed. At first, it’ll feel weird if you find yourself reaching for your armour; I mean your phone, and it’s nowhere to be seen. And then, as humans connect more, we’ll start to enjoy one another’s company. Or perhaps realize that we’re miserable with some people, and we’ve been masking this misery by using our devices as a crutch! Either way, we’d be growing and relating more with who we are, what others mean to us, and what we need and want.
This could be a good thing!
I don’t really know if you care or don’t. There will come a time when we will all step up and realize that the only thing that really matters in life is the relationships that we build, and probably not on social media unless you take it off the platform and connect for ‘real.’
I guess it’s all subjective – or is it?