I love technology. At least most of the time I do. And I hate technology just as much. Technology is at its best when it serves us. When it is at its worst, we serve it. We become slaves to our computers, our smart phones, our Twitter or Facebook accounts, etc. I know this all too well. As an IT consultant, I spend way too much time on the Internet and I suppose even writing these articles adds to my screen time. What can you do?!
The very thing that has connected us and made it possible to communicate with almost anyone in the world is also the thing that has disconnected us.
When I was very young, maybe five or six, I have vivid memories of going to the square dances at the local Grange hall. I would watch people square dance for hours and wait for my chance, slow dancing with one of my older sisters.
That building is still there in Weedsport, NY but has long since been converted into a house. The Grange has all but disappeared and square dancing is still alive but no longer the mainstay of socializing it used to be.
I am sure that is how my mother and father met, at a dance or some other social activity as both of their parents were farmers.
In the good ole days, people met by going to a social activity of some kind, see someone you like, strike up a conversation and see how it goes. Maybe after seeing each other at two or three or four dances you would ask the girl for a date and off you’d go. The point is we actually got to know each other BEFORE dating. It doesn’t happen much that way anymore.
We date all backwards now, connecting on a website, messaging and talking on the phone and then going on a date before you’ve even seen the other person. It’s all backwards. I have heard it works for some people but you never really know someone until you see them in person, see what they really look like, how they move, how they smell, etc. The pheromones are not in play from the beginning as they should be.
The result of all this is that there is more loneliness, more anxiety of all kinds especially social anxiety, less community and people in general feeling less connected to the rest of humanity.
We have more road rage, more intolerance of others, more self-centered-ness and less of an understanding that how we treat others is important as we are all connected.
I combat this everyday by going to dances, which has been hard for me being a true introvert and having occasional social anxiety. I have met wonderful people in the dance community, many as imperfect and flawed as I am. And we have a common place to interact, to touch each other and to feel like we belong to something that is bigger than we are. We all have an innate need to feel like we belong.
So go take dancing lessons, join a club, do something that connects you with people. And keep trying different things until you find something that works for you. You will thank yourself for it.