Are We Really That Disconnected?
Or are we believing the hype?
Companies make millions of dollars off your supposed inability to figure out how to exist without belonging to their fabricated Group of Awesome. And they just as quickly plummet—and scramble to recover—when their Brand of Awesome is no longer the Most Awesomest out there.
Feeling connected to your fellow man isn’t about a marketing slogan or brand unity or gadgets or social media. It’s about taking a second to acknowledge a stranger, to wonder at his story, to speak a kind word or smile.
People want to connect—the crushing popularity of the online dating world is a clear indication of this—but they’re afraid to commit to connection. I’m guilty of this myself. I’d rather talk to you for 3 hours than commit to being your friend for life.
I mean, what happens if it turns out you suck?
Spend more than 5 minutes on Facebook or Twitter, and you can see that people suck. In fact, I think the feeling nowadays is that most people suck—that they’re boring or tedious or needy or crazy—and that’s too bad. As we get older, our ability to recognize the Patterns of Suck becomes more pronounced, so we start shutting people out, probably prematurely, or worse—we don’t put ourselves out there at all.
Here’s what I know: People are fascinating for all the little, under-the-surface things that make us each unique. But to hear the story, you have to pause and listen.
The gruff vendor who just exchanged a warm, salt-laden pretzel across the steaming cart for your money… What must his life be like? Does his skin give off the fragrance of smoked sausage and warm dough, even after he’s showered at night? Do his legs ache at the end of the day, and how long is that day? Is he content in his work, or does he wish for something more? Does he have a family? Does he hate tourists—or love them?
The waiter, the bartender, the clerk, the man or woman eating alone, the person beside you on the subway or across from you on the train—without invading their privacy, you can connect with every one of them. For five minutes or three hours. You can help make someone’s day feel a little more in sync with humanity by simply putting forth the intention that you want to connect. That’s it.
And you just never know what might happen as a result.
I live in a city of over 8 million people, and yet I’ve been warned of this Great Feeling That Will Descend on Me of Being Alone in New York City. Can you ever really feel alone when you always have the option to put yourself out there to be known?