I’m not a Beatles fan by definition, but this song came to mind during a recent email exchange with a dear Internet Friend of mine. I was responding to a series of recent events they’d gone through and in my stream-of-consciousness style I touched on the fact that like my friend, I’m guilty of becoming a hermit and not interacting with my friends as often as I should. My ramblings in my letter (yes… really – I wrote out my response long hand and then scanned it to them) expanded into a variety of other thoughts, mostly on how we humans who use the computer for everything are becoming more and more isolated from actual humans.
I don’t care to talk on the phone. If you’d known me when I was in middle and high school, you’d wonder at the change as I was guilty of being on the phone for hours with a person who was one of my best friends at the time. Now? Phone calls are best left for business or if texts are becoming too numerous and cumbersome and I might as well just call because that’ll take less time. I’m also a fan of email. Email gives me a chance to mull over what I want to say and get it exactly how I want it worded without coming off as an ass because I mixed up what I wanted to say and how I wanted to say it which is one of the issues with being a stream-of-consciousness kind of person. Ooh! Glitter!
And so, I rambled on about needing to reach out to friends when we feel ourselves slipping into negative thoughts and feelings. Our friends want to help us. They want to be there for us. We just have to let them.
American society spends so much time with our mobile devices shoved in front of our faces that people appear to no longer be able to connect with each other on personal level. We’ve given over to either fierce independence (I do it!) thinking we don’t need anyone in our corner because fuck them or wallowing in a pool of self-pity and wanton desperation for the approval of anyone and everyone. I’m highly prone to the former and loathe the latter.
I’m sure that there are other cultures similar to Americans who are increasingly disconnected from each other, and yet as half of my friends are from Sweden, famous for sitting down to fika at any and all times of the day, I’m lucky to have a group of friends, my tribe, who will force face-to-face interaction. One cannot refuse an offer to fika (please go read this post talking about that and other fun Swedish facts and anecdotes).
All these thoughts about spending face time with our tribe members, our friends, had me pondering on another question I was asked about how to get younger people joining a national organization that was “getting old and fat”. I’ll write more on that another time, but that question had me pondering about how as a child and teenager I was involved in all manner of sports, 4-H, the National Junior Horticultural Association, the local saddle (horse) club, the regional horse association, began taking Master Gardener classes, was in the band and went to leaders and board meetings for both 4-H and the horse groups. Now, my Mom was the one who drove us (my siblings were involved in the various groups and activities as well) here, there and everywhere, but the overwhelming point is that there always seemed to be time to get things done. I don’t know how Mom did it with three kids, four if you count my father, a hobby farm with a lot of animals and a full-time job.
Now? Mr. Muse summed it up when we had a brief check-in on the status of if we are both still okay being child-free – his immediate response was, “ABSOLUTELY! I barely have time and energy to do what I want to do, let alone what I need to get done.”
So what happened? Beyond going to work and spending a few nights a month with our friends, we haven’t been involved in anything else. For all of the advances in technology that is supposed to make everything more efficient, how is it that we barely have time to participate in activities and groups as adults like we had time to do when we were younger? Have we spread ourselves so thin that we can no longer participate in life outside of work and home work? What has been the cost to our personal relationships with loved ones when we have no recreational or creative outlets? What has been the cost to our network of friends and acquaintances when we don’t participate in recreational, creative, or civic groups?
Effectively? Our group of friends, our tribe, gets smaller. Our network of friends contracts. The people we know, who we can call with questions or for help, dwindles. We feel more isolated, more cut off and ultimately, more alone. I have fond memories of people I got to know through those groups I was involved with when I was younger and I’m missing that in my life now.
So, tomorrow we’re going out with friends for a birthday dinner (one of theirs), I’m scheduling a “decompression from the week dinner” with another couple. I’ve got the next monthly meeting for an interest group marked in my calendar. It’s time to expand my horizons, not to mention my network of friends and acquaintances. It’s time to get involved in Life. (And learn to make a gluten-free version of fikabröd.)
What are your thoughts?
Do you constantly feel pressed for time?
Does your group of friends get smaller with the passing years?
Are you a member of any groups?