Why Don’t We Talk Anymore?
I’ll never forget his little face as I merged onto a busy highway. A young student, waving frantically. His face pressed up against the back of a bus window, desperately trying to get the attention of the drivers around him. I smile and honk my horn as I watch him jump in excitement. It’s then that I realize this was my first human interaction in hours.
Why don’t we talk to each other anymore? We choose self-check-outs over smiling cashiers and have become so obsessed with capturing the moment that we aren’t living in it. How can we feel so disconnected when we are more connected than ever before? Riding the elevator has become almost disheartening. I cringe watching as people stand inches from one another, visibly stressed about having to physically interact. They avoid eye contact, appearing antsy, almost nervous as we rise above each passing floor. Many seem to wish they had taken the stairs to avoid being trapped by meaningless conversations about the weather. After all, we can get that forecast on our phones, right?
I recently sat down with a group of teenagers who tell me that they are, without question, addicted to social media. They each detail the times that they planned their day around a future Instagram photo. I feel a tinge of sadness as they explain to me that it doesn’t matter if they’re having fun – just as long as that’s the impression that they’re
giving their followers.
Adults are no exception, with each “Like” symbolizing a virtual nod to our loss of authenticity. People are trading in originality for what feels like acceptance. Each time our phone lights up, psychologists say that our brains are adapting to the attention. That means we start to crave “Likes” almost like a drug, conditioning ourselves to want more each time we post. Some experts say we aren’t necessarily addicted to our phones, but that we live in “fear of missing out,” also known as FOMO. This prompts us to check our social media accounts over and over again, creating a cycle we are now so accustomed to that we don’t even realize we’re doing it and who may be impacted in the process.
Next time you’re at the park, watch the mom sitting on the bench while her child begs her to play, or the cashier greeting customers who absentmindedly blow past, or the kid on the back of the bus begging drivers to honk. Maybe what we’re actually missing…is right there in front of us. Hopefully, it’s not too late to look up.