I’m ambivalent about the evolution of our communication options. But I’ve been called a “Luddite” a number of times. After the first accusation I had to look up the term to know what type of behind-the-curve person I unintentionally am in some people’s eyes. But no offense taken, the term often feels like a compliment.
We have managed to reduce the number of Eye to Eye contact moments in our lives. Our eyes often see only what others want us to see. We don’t see much of each other, just characters presenting variations of our “best” sides to catch an eye. Eventually the lack of Eye to Eye communication will let us lose focus on who reflects in the mirror. And if we can’t accept the reflected image a plastic surgeon can disguise us from ourself. Could a plastic credit card be as vital to a plastic surgery clinic as silicone? Have you ever seen those women’s T-shirts with various statements printed across the chest like, “My eyes are not down here.” (Body image/language is another form of communication that is severely distorted for women and men. But this is a separate topic).
Blogs, Facebook, texting and email have a place in choices for communicating. But none of them replace being in front of someone and looking them in the eye. Even live video feeds should not replace human contact. But we appear to seek the isolation that happens with social media. We are busy with jobs and families and convince ourselves that the current forms of communication are better than nothing. Better than nothing, like frozen pizzas we wish could be like home-made focaccia. Maybe if enough cheese is piled on a frozen pizza it becomes good enough? We have convinced ourselves that social media is good enough, it’s better than nothing. When everything starts to taste the same it’s OK as long as most of us are eating the same stuff. Right?
Going “Eye to Eye” with someone takes time. And time is limited so we devise methods to maximize it. We control who gets our time by using email and texts to place walls between us. We can be cut and dry, postpone, pass it on or ignore messages with this method of communication. We don’t have to engage.
If the place where you live has a front porch (and many newer homes and apartments do not) try sitting out there with someone. Leave the smart phones behind and engage in conversation. Go Eye to Eye without an agenda. Doing so can lighten the world and enrich relationships in ways social media companies hope we will forget. There are some who will never develop the skills and awareness that is required to communicate in the antiquated method of going “Eye to Eye.”
I recognize irony of this blog post that uses the social media I criticise to communicate my lofty ideas. And the isolation I refer to is also part of my own life. We are all busy. Few will read this entire blog. It’s too long. Nothing is 20/20. But don’t forget how good it is to be with others in real impromptu time.