Last night I was meant to go to my first ever yoga class. It didn’t happen though as I ended up having to work late.
My plan had been to write about the experience this morning. Not going meant I had to think of something else to write about so I decided to write about getting out more, which is something I have committed to do (and which led to last night’s yoga plans).
The yoga experience will happen and I will write about it, but for now I want to explore why it is important to get out more, to engage with life, and to meet and interact with people face to face.
Technology: a blessing and a curse
We are all blessed today with a myriad of technologies that allow us to ‘connect’ with each other, all over the world. It really is amazing. Right here, right now I could:
- make a telephone call to a friend in the USA
- email someone in Australia
- Skype with family
- watch the news on TV and see live pictures from around the world
- use social media to ‘connect’ with friends and acquaintances
- send a text message
The world is my oyster, subject to my having the technology.
But there is a downside, a curse if you will. These methods of communication have become the norm. People value themselves by how many friends they have on Facebook, or how many Twitter followers they have. People no longer show up in person, they simply log on. Connecting and engaging with life and other human beings has become something that is done from the comfort of a bedroom, in isolation. It’s all gone a bit weird.
Technology is a tool and it should be used as such. It is not a replacement for actual human interaction or for stepping outside and engaging with life.
One of the lessons that I learned from my TV experiment was that in the absence of television I spent more time online. I ended up swapping one ‘bad habit’ for another. It was a good lesson as it helped me realise that instead of my using the internet as a tool, that the internet was using me.
Back to basics (you really should get out more Steve)
Becoming conscious of how you use technology is the first step and allows you to limit the time you spend using technologies such as the internet and social media.
I decided (as I often do) to go back to basics, to go back to that which has sustained us as human beings for thousands of years: actual connection with other human beings.
I think there is a big difference between connecting online and connecting in person. It’s a bit like going to a sporting event or concert. There is a huge difference between actually being there and watching the event on TV. When you are there in person you experience the excitement, the atmosphere: the sights, the sounds and the smells are all real. It is such a different experience to sitting on the sofa (alone), eating chips, whilst watching the event on TV.
So it is with our human interactions. Nothing in this world can beat face to face human interaction.
When human beings communicate over 90 per cent of that communication takes place through body language. That means if you can’t see the person that you’re communicating with, because you’re communicating online or over the phone, that you are missing a huge piece of the jigsaw. This is why an often innocent email can be taken ‘the wrong way’. We need to see each other to communicate effectively.
The other reason that getting out more and engaging with life, and people, is important is we need each other. If I have a dream, something I really want to do, then sitting on my sofa thinking about it is not going to make it happen. I need people: people to bounce ideas off, to give me feedback, to make suggestions, to say “hey, I know someone who could help you with that”.
We need each other.
We need to get out more, to meet and interact with real human beings, to engage with life.
So that’s what I’m doing. I am trying new things (e.g. yoga). I am making arrangement to go see old friends, to meet up for coffee, to step outside the comfort of my flat and to engage with life.
And guess what? If I use it correctly then the technology that I have can assist. It can be a useful tool, as it should be.
What is also interesting about this experiment in connecting is that it has an additional benefit in terms of my writing. Recently I’ve been suffering from ‘topic block’, which is different to ‘writers block’ i.e. I’ve struggled sometimes to find a topic to write about. The more I get out and connect with others though, the more I have to write about. It’s simple really: if you write about life then you need to engage with life in order to have the experiences, and to learn the lessons, that you can then write about.
So, how about you?
Do you make time to engage with life, with your friends (face to face)? Do you try new things? Do you get out enough?
Answers on a postcard please.