Read closely… this is what you’ll be missing. And you won’t even know it until it’s completely gone, lost somewhere between your last “Like” and your next meme repost. It’s fallen between the endless threads of photo shares and video loops. Trapped somewhere within the confines of a hashtag. You won’t even know what to do with yourself when you notice; you barely know what to do to now. As we continue to advance in this Digital Age, our unrelenting hunger for validation – this need for external approval, has left us yearning for more, yet over-satiated. Better informed, yet unaware. Everything is racing to be newer, faster, better… and we refuse to be left behind.
The constant desire to be connected at every moment has, ironically, only pushed us further apart. We can stand in a crowd of thousands and still be blissfully isolated with nothing more than a glowing LCD screen. Frustrations, anger, sadness, joy – all aired in passive (sometimes aggressive) status updates. We’ve forgotten what it’s like to share our friend’s pain with a warm embrace, as we’ve already sent our deepest condolences via email. We’ve forgotten what it’s like to celebrate in our colleague’s success because we’ve already expressed our congratulations with a double click. Birthday acknowledgements reduced to newsfeed reminders. Baby announcements, a single photo. The newsfeed that has become our brain, refreshes every 5 minutes, or less. We’re being fed non-stop. E-invites, game requests, trending topics. Even fast food speeds right to your door.
Everything is easier behind the cover of a screen – consumerism, media consumption, hate. We’re told what to buy, what to believe, and who to condemn, and we hardly notice the misdirection. We’re becoming mindless bandwagoners, jumping onto the closest, most-favored idea. People are no longer people, only skewed representations of themselves on screen, easier to separate ourselves from, judge, and bully based on nothing more than appearances alone. What happened to MLK’s dream of judging instead by “content of [their] character?” What happened to loving before hating? What happened to caring and meaning it?
What exactly is it that we’re losing amongst this onslaught of sensory de-sensitizing antagonists? It is this. The human connection. And maybe we’ve known it all along, but being confronted with this reality robs us of our enjoyment of what’s happening in the here-and-now. Maybe we’d rather face this at a more convenient time. Or maybe we ought to look it in the face now. When was the last time you made eye contact with someone? Anyone? Held their gaze for more than 2 seconds and really looked at who they were and not who their qualifications, or lack thereof, said they were? When was the last time you felt your heartstrings wrap around a loved one? The last time you paid a smile forward? The last time you cried?
We are supremely entangled in our devices and gadgets – in ourselves, and it’s about time we disentangle, release ourselves from the invisible tendrils that have held us too long beneath the surface. We need air. We need to breathe deeply into our lungs and feel alive – to reach out beside us, grasp on, and feel the life that exists there too. We need to be accountable again.
Maybe this prose moved you… maybe you refuse to be moved, but regardless, the ground has shifted. There is no stillness in these uncertain times. For a brief moment, we were connected by these words. The human connection is disappearing, perhaps, but it’s more than worth remembering. It’s worth preserving. If not for you or me, at the very least… For Posterity.