I’m guilty of it. I’m sure you are too if you walk or take public transportation for any significant distance over the course of a day. In fact, the majority of the people I see walking around on the streets of DC are guilty.
Isolation. Yes, we are guilty of isolating ourselves.
I’m referring to the use of headphones or distractions on electronic devices. Are we closing ourselves off to actual interactions with other people? Are we missing opportunities to network, meet new friends, or even new potential love matches?
In addition to tiny little speaker buds in our ears, it seems that many people use Kindles, Nooks, or other e-readers more often than regular old books when they are riding the metro to and from work. (Are there other types of e-readers? Maybe iPads?) I know that this allows a certain amount of privacy that paperbacks do not, but what about the fun in striking up a conversation with someone who shares the same taste in Fiction? I do not mind if someone makes a comment about my book. I think there is a special kinship that comes along with reading, especially if you are able to share a literary experience with someone else. Why do you think book clubs are so popular? (Well, maybe the copious amounts of wine.) People are always looking for ways to connect, and I think that finding someone who understands a story in the same way that you do makes the experience of reading that much more enjoyable. Why can’t that person be new to you?
Someone on the Internet decided to take on the issue of isolation. There is a website called “Meetup” that essentially does what we used to do on our own in the “old days.” You know, meet strangers with similar interests and form groups. Isn’t that how you make friends the organic way? Because so much of our lives are now tied into the Internet and social media, I understand why Meetup is so popular– being that it’s online and easy to access. Essentially, you go on this site, pick your interests and location, and the site gives you several groups (of strangers) that meet to either discuss or participate in your preferred activity. *Warning: introverts’ nightmare.* I know that it’s hard for some to even consider the idea of talking to strangers, much less voluntarily putting themselves in a situation where they are forced to interact with a group of total strangers, but I also think that we have become too comfortable with letting ourselves be OK with isolation.
I’m guilty. There, I said it.
I’ve joined a couple of “Meetup” groups, but I have yet to attend a meeting (introversion permitting). My topics of interest include Philosophy and Creative Writing, but there are so many different activities that you can choose from; it can seem a little overwhelming. This experience of joining a group of strangers would be way out of my comfort zone, but how does the saying go, “To get what you’ve never had, you have to do something you’ve never done”? I think it would be good to meet others who share at least one of my quirky interests. Besides, there comes a time when happy hours and bar crawls have passed their limit of quality interaction.
How about I make a challenge to wrap up this post? I challenge everyone reading this to speak to at least one complete stranger this week—someone you would not otherwise speak to. Meaning, this can’t be someone you have to speak to about work, home repairs, ordering coffee, etc… I’m referring to someone at the store, or someone you see on the street while commuting to work. Either give that person a compliment or comment on something they are reading that you may have also enjoyed. Make a brief connection. You’d be amazed at how a simple human interaction can make your day a little more enjoyable.
Here’s to breaking the isolation barrier and coming out from behind the comfort of a computer screen, or e-reader! Cheers!