OK, OK, yea, I know, there is a LOT I haven’t kept up with over the last few months. So SORRRRRRRY! One of the main items is mail, both snail paper and e. Bills, well, you know, people who send bills tend to remind you. Irritating, ain’t it? I just found an old unread email from my son, who does tend to pass on some very interesting little tidbits. This one was prompted by some oft repeated opinions of mine.
Ever have the feeling that people just don’t seem as happy as they used to be? I know, “Back in my day…” but somehow, it does seem a little more real than that might intimate. I did not live in a small town when growing up, I lived in a suburb of Chicago, a very large city. But I knew my neighbors, almost everyone on the block, by name. Some of them were incredably irritating. Fifty years ago and I still remember.
Times now seem more stressful, and we are trying desperately to make them easier, keep stress at bay, avoid those that irritate us, get our entertainment at home, do our shopping on line and just not bother with other people. Today, beyond “the crazy guy who threatened to shoot the next black man who came to the door, and accused us of keeping illegal aliens in our storage shed,” I do not think any of my children could name our next door neighbors.
In the article sent by my son from Cracked, while humorous, David Wong provides some very cogent reasons why the 21st Century is making us miserable, and it isn’t because we are over stressed. It may, in fact, be because we don’t get enough stress.
It is hard to deal with other people intruding into our lives. It is easier to do exactly what I am doing, stay at home with no one but an overly affectionate dog and TYPE on the computer. Social media, chat-rooms, and on line communication is overwhelmingly popular. It is the chosen way to meet. Facebook is making Billions. After all, you are the one who can choose with whom to converse, who to approach, and to whom you send those photos you never would wish to put in the family album. To ignore and block is but the push of a button.
But what do you miss? What is it you avoid along with not having to deal with all those irritations. I agree with Mr. Wong’s supposition that one thing you miss is the ability to deal with all those irritations. You do not learn how to negotiate politely and courteously through the quagmire of social interchange. How many of us, after all, have run into people who rely on over used profanity and tedious gesticulation when a, “Thank you, but I am not really interested” might do.
Beyond that it is my strong opinion that as Mr. Wong points out, what you miss in on line communication is the clarity and understanding that comes with body language, intonation, and the pace and pause of face to face verbal communication. If you can, think of the difference between a little sixty year old British lady saying “Excuse me” and Steve Martin saying the same phrase. Entirely different sounds and images come to mind, but the typed symbols are identical.
OK, so I take a small step off of my soap box and with a thank you to my son, suggest the power of a smile and a bit of charm, the advantage of a polite comment to another person at the store, elevator, or corner, perhaps getting out and walking that overly affectionate dog and practicing a bit of interpersonal behavior on someone you find immediately irritating. They may be so, but with a little practice, you might find a little less of that irritation coming from you.