Ever since I was a child, I so enjoyed random conversations. I used to get in trouble in school because no matter who a teacher sat me next to, I would spend the day chatting away. These random conversations usually revolve around subjects which truly matter to that person; life, purpose, following ones deep desires, etc…This is how I connect with people spiritually. This is not just with people I don’t know, but also with the people I care about and love. I take this opportunity to create a space for that person to see themselves for who they genuinely are. We get so buried in the external noise, family, friends, work, media, telling us who we are or should be that we forget what is real(ly us). I love nothing more than to hold up a metaphorical mirror (in the way of a conversation) so that person can reconnect with their true self.
More and more in the recent months, I noticed that my phone wasn’t ringing (except for work, ugh!). Those wonderful happy hours, coffee dates, and lunches were not being scheduled with family and friends. When I did reach out to friends to connect, they believed that our dates could be more infrequent as they were caught up on my life via Facebook. This made me so sad for so many reasons. The first being the most obvious for any of us. Social media is a blip on the radar of our lives. Twitter only gives you 140 characters…can you fit you into 140 characters? Next, I was sad because I largely used Facebook for mass communication and acquaintance connections. Now my family and friends relied on this method of communications to “catch up.”
Before I go on, I want to be clear that I am not advocating for a mass exodus of Facebook or social media. There are plenty of well documented reasons why social media, used effectively, connects people to people, events, causes and such. I need to take (and do) full responsibility for the dynamic I created by updating my family and friends as to what I was doing electronically. What I am saying is that when I found myself lacking meaningful connections and conversations in my life, I decided to unplug from social media so I could reconnect interpersonally.
So, over the last month, I took the Facebook app off my phone and deleted the tab from home computer. I have reached out to family and some friends to let them know that I want to recreate a new dynamic…old school conversations. Let’s talk to each other on the phone again, let’s go to lunch or coffee, let’s go for a walk and catch up on what is going on in our lives. I also have committed to leaving my phone at home when I am spending quality time with my loved ones. I want them to feel that the time they have chosen to spend with me is a priority to me and no call trumps that.
It has been lonely at times because the “instant gratification” that came with checking on Facebook for my friend’s lives fooled me into believing I was having those important conversations that I love so much. What has started to happen is that I have a better understanding of who is invested in my life and I in theirs and who is an acquaintance.
This topic is close to my heart because of the media attention on school violence. Nearly every time we hear the background on an incident of school violence, it is a child that felt this act of violence was the only way of being heard. How is it that a society that is so plugged in to information and communication can’t hear a child’s pain, frustration and anger? Relationships cannot be started, maintained or repaired effectively electronically! It is time to put down your cell phone, close your laptop and “reach out and touch someone” (an old commercial reference). I know for sure that there is someone in your life that needs to hear from you. That one conversation will restore their faith, help them make a decision, remind them to believe in themselves or even break through the darkness of depression and anxiety. You can help someone feel connected when you chose to electronically disconnect.