Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Attention

We live in a lonely world. Our society is filled with social networking, instant messaging, chat rooms - yet how much time do people spend on Facebook updating their status messages in the hopes that someone out there will care enough to comment? And then isn't it disappointing when it's just a "lol?" You know they're not even really laughing.

Holy Hyrax/Ezzie put up a video yesterday about Twitter. I have never Twittered, I never understood the point of Twitter...to me it just seems like having only the status update part of Facebook. I'm not sure why that sounds like fun, but to plenty of people - it does.

At one point in the video, someone asks, "Who are they talking to?"
The reply was, "No one. And everyone."

We want so badly to be heard, to be noticed, to be cared for that we'll do anything to get attention. It's so rare that people are available to actually have a conversation. All you can do is blurt out these status messages in the hopes that someone will reply and - you're filled with an odd hope for...something because - hooray! Human interaction!

Little spurts of human interaction are so often all we get nowadays. And most of the time, they're not even in person. They are through text on a screen. Are these people even really your friends? Do you call someone your friend who only talks to you occasionally through the computer? How do we define 'friend' nowadays?

Don't you see how much we're starving for closeness? I sometimes wonder if there were as many depressed people hundreds of years ago as there are today. I have no idea. It doesn't even matter. I'm just curious. I wonder how much richer our society would be if we actually had time for one another.

You want to talk about the New York mentality? The epitome of the New York mentality, to me, is when you feel like you have to pencil yourself in for a ten minute slot in the middle of someone's busy schedule just to say hello.

Maybe that's why people Twitter. Or use facebook. They may waste hours on there, but each thing is done in quick, two-second intervals. That's all people have time for. It's like little hiccups of human connection and then back to the whirlwind of demands and projects and papers and meetings and life.

Is that really life?

Maybe we should have a snail mail campaign where we actually write each other letters - handwrite! (Does anyone remember how?) - just to return to some state of comraderie that used to exist. We all know so many people - more than we can all handle with proper attention - and have so little time.

On the flip side, in an age where modes of communication take an instant, people expect immediate responses. There's no time to think. No time to reflect. No time to just breathe. And if someone doesn't respond immediately, the other person starts to overanalyze why.

We try to multitask everything - including our relationships. You're talking to one person, gchatting another, and texting another all at the same time. I'm guilty of this, too. I'm not saying I am free from this age we've entrenched ourselves in. But it's ruining the way we interact with each other. It's ruining our ability to give something real attention. So no one really gets full attention, and then they need to seek it out elsewhere. They twitter. They rapidly change status messages on Facebook. On gchat. They're calling out for someone, anyone, to care. To pay them some attention.

We're human. Human needs don't change. We all need that attention. Let's start giving it to each other, please? I know I'm going to try.

4 comments:

Ezzie said...

My mom said after seeing the video "someday someone will come up with the novel idea of 'human interaction' as a way of communicating."

RaggedyMom said...

Great points, Erachet. Having small kids is a great reminder to make eye contact, not be distracted, slow down, and connect. But it's something that so many of us really need to work on, kids or not. It really is to the detriment of our communication that as the technology has progressed, the level of true, undivided engagement in another has vastly deteriorated.

Anonymous said...

so true, its hard to tell who your real friends are when the people you are good friends with via text message are awkward to you in person

lxs said...

@anon: ain't that the truth.