Sometimes I look around my world and realize that living my life in a city, amidst many people, I can feel and be utterly alone. I am keenly aware of the reality that, with evolving technology, I am able to exist with very little interaction with people. When I was growing up there were many pieces of our daily existence that required interaction with other individuals…. today that is occurring less. Technology is able to replace people and as a result we are not developing the same sorts of relationships we once did. Do you know your grocer? Do you even have a grocer? Do you know your neighbor’s name? (I actually do know my next door neighbor’s name, but I could not tell you the names of the individuals in the apartments on the other floors of my building……)
Computers can be used for almost anything – I can socialize with a book club all online, meet people, and get support for any physical ailment I may think I have (based, of course, on self-diagnosis through Dr. Google).
True confession – I have not gone grocery shopping (real grocery shopping) for over a year. I buy groceries weekly online. The total time it takes me to shop is between 5 and 10 minutes. The site saves my master list and I edit it as necessary on a weekly basis. The food is delivered the next day during the time period I select. This is so convenient – and the time I save is well worth the small delivery fee. I do not see new products and I no longer run into friends and colleagues at the market, as I do not go. I am happy to utilize my time in new ways, but I do understand this practice allows me to isolate myself more if I choose to.
I no longer go to bookstores, I use my Kindle or Nook (yes, I do have both!) I now get computer generated recommendations for the latest releases instead of human recommendations. I no longer converse about the merits of a particular book over another – I read the customer reviews and make the best decision I can.
I do not need to go to the movies, as I can have movies on demand streamed to my computer. While I love that I do not have to listen to loud teenagers or watch the newly matched couple suck each other’s faces off in front of me while I am trying to concentrate on a movie, I think there was something special about being in the midst of people and reacting to the movie together, even when we did not know each other.
Dating has changed immensely as a result of the internet – in fact, most people I know today met their spouse online…. or met them at a group they found out about online. As our community dwindles there are fewer opportunities to meet people. If you are not a bar hopper or a church goer, it can limit your opportunities, particularly if your workplace is small or you are in a career that seems to be biased towards one gender over another (i.e.: I work in schools and that is not an easy place for a woman to meet a man as the women outnumber the men incredibly).
When I go to the bank, post office, or gas station I rarely see people anymore – I interact with a machine to get what I need and move on. It is quicker, it is more convenient (arguably), it probably keeps costs down……. but the connection is gone.
THEREFORE, it is critical that we seek places where we can connect with other people. Some do this through sports, classes, or at the gym, others join dating services or book clubs, some people choose to join groups focusing around a specific hobby such as theatre, crafting, or hiking. The key is to make sure to put in the effort to reach out to others and include yourself in society – to make sure you are interacting and connecting with others in capacities other than at your place of work or school.
How do you connect with others?
Today, 302 days ’til 40, I will be more conscious of my connections with others. While I greatly enjoy the online/ virtual community (particularly the blogging one!) I will remember how critical it is to reach out to my physical community. Life remains a balancing act, and that act is critical. I hope you find the balance in your life too.