Reach out and touch someone
[Note: Today’s article is a first of more to come from Hoboken411 reader Andrew – who has volunteered to share his perspectives of the world we live in. So welcome Andrew, and share your thoughts in the comments section!]
Reach out and touch someone
By Andrew B.
One of my favorite ad campaigns of the ‘80s is now a call to action in the new millennium.
Picking up the phone to “reach out and touch someone” has morphed into typing and texting, and ultimately avoiding face-to-face social interaction. As my mother so often points out, there are twenty different ways for her reach me but I still don’t call enough (I don’t). I have four email addresses, a BlackBerry for work, a personal cell phone, and two computers on which I regularly instant message. But I am one of the few of my generation who can still say that I am not an active member of Facebook, Myspace or Twitter! Heresy, I know. We have more means of communication than previous civilizations could ever have imagined, yet we are really more disconnected from one another than ever.
READ THE REST OF THE EDITORIAL AFTER THE JUMP…
(Reach out and touch someone, continued…)
“Telephones have always defied the distances society has created through migration, colonization, and urbanization—a magic that can now seem ordinary.”
Anti-social social scenes
This “magic,” which previously bridged the gap between friends and family living long distances from one another has an ugly flip side that is becoming more apparent each day. Rather than drawing people closer together, it is alienating people from those that they are closest to in physical proximity: our neighbors, fellow commuters and most importantly – bartenders!
I was recently at one of my favorite watering holes in town when I noticed about six other people sitting around the same horseshoe bar. Four of the six were texting away, eyes down and fingers flying, with no desire to converse with the friendly bartender who was commenting about the game on TV. Not only did one of my fellow drinkers try to avoid engaging in the conversation, but he seemed genuinely annoyed that she would dare to divert his attention from the “magical” device in his hand.
I’m not here to talk about cell phone etiquette because we have all broken the unspoken rules of public cell phone use at some point. But I’m starting to see signs that people have become uncomfortable interacting face-to-face with people they don’t know. Even when stores post signs that ask customers to “Please refrain from using your cell phone when ordering” people fully ignore it! Seemingly more often than not people are focusing more on their text messages or the person on the other end of the line than the person RIGHT ACROSS THE COUNTER! I refuse to believe the argument that people are ruder today than in previous generations. I’m certain that there were plenty of rude people during the last turn of the century. It’s just a different kind of self importance that we see today.
Part of the problem may be that as a society we’re expected to be everywhere all the time. Couple that with the fact that people now expect an immediate response to an email or a text and we’re faced with a population that is increasingly unsatisfied with living in the present. We’re not part of The Next Generation but rather the What’s Next? Generation. Check out any bar this weekend and you’ll see more people on their cell phone trying to find where “everyone” else is or where their crew is headed than people enjoying the moment and their current company. This holds true even when they are with their friends.
To make matters worse more people are starting to abandon email as the preferred from of written communication. As if we haven’t degraded language enough already we’re now seeing people use the numerous social networks to replace regular email.
How do you fix this?
So, what’s the solution? Will our children even be able to speak in full sentences? Will they still be able to speak at all? Of course they will! And unfortunately for many of us some of the young, carriage-bound, screaming residents of Hoboken will most definitely have the lung capacity to carry on… and on. We are living at the fastest pace in human history. We are experiencing a continuous evolution of ways in which ideas and information can be shared. We are also experiencing an arguable devolution in language. You might never write or receive a letter again. While letter writing is a lost form of communication and is unfortunate, it’s a sign of the times and I’ll have a drink to the continuing demise of the US Postal Service.
Having said that, just because we have all of these tools at our disposal doesn’t mean that we should lose the sense of community that all civilizations have shared and experienced over the years. Put down your Blackberry and take a minute to say hello to your local barista. Strike up a random conversation with the dude sitting next to you on the bus or the PATH. And most importantly, talk to your bartender instead of merely ordering some drinks. Ya might even get a free drink out of it.
Man, typing all of this just reminded me I should probably give my parents a heads up that I’ll be home for dinner Sunday night. BRB…gotta txt em b4 I 4get.