So I decided to spend my Friday afternoon sitting leisurely with a couple of my new found lady friends over wine and intimate talks about this and that. The session started out very dull, almost resembling prolonged small talk with a person that is having difficulty understanding your language. But as the sun slowly disappeared and made way for the moon, the conversation got better until we reached a point of total openness and surrender with each other.
One could argue that it was the alcohol talking, but I have a different theory.
We had more to share and were willing to listen to each other because we had no choice. Our cellphones had lost battery power.
I’m a moderately introverted young lady who just so happens to have a very strong affection for instant messaging. Platforms like WhatsApp have given people like me the opportunity to say the things we normally wouldn’t say in person without the stress of having to make long, awkward pauses in a desperate attempt to find the right words to articulate our feelings.
I have recently discovered that the reason why I generally would much rather say as little as possible (in the shortest amount of time) around people I am not particularly familiar with isn’t because of autism or communication apprehension. It is because I usually already have about five other “interesting” conversations going on in my phone. I don’t have the mental capacity to actively participate in any more verbal exchanges and make valid contributions.
Okay. My parents have been complaining about it. And I have read articles about how we are becoming a social anti-social generation bla bla bla. The knowledge isn’t new, but it has finally sunk in.
We know so much about so many people in our lives, but we have not experienced much with them. And when we finally do, we never really seize the moment and take it all in. We’re so concerned with pausing to take instagram pictures, getting a few moments to ourselves to sneak in a text or two to our other friends or taking unexpected calls. It is so difficult to be fully present and unaffected by external happenings.
Looking back, I must admit I don’t think I truly knew any of my ex partners / friends and vice versa. We were consumed with having the most mind blowing conversations over text messages and on the phone that we missed the essence of being in a relationship. Being in a relationship, of any nature, requires both parties to spend time with each other in real time.
Getting to know me in this digital era means switching our phones off and having an actual conversation with each other. No emoticons or exaggerated punctuation marks to amplify and embellish meaning. Just good old fashioned chatting.
Sure, I will not be deleting WhatsApp anytime soon. But I have vowed to never again ruin the beauty of bonding with someone in person by giving them a summary of my life in edited paragraphs and heavily filtered photos over the phone in a space of three weeks. I have also vowed to be intentional and decisive about where I want to be by choosing to partake in one experience at a go. But the biggest lesson here is this; People are better experienced offline.