Conversing

This past week or so several people have brought a very interesting video to my attention: The Innovation of Loneliness.

It’s short, with nifty graphics and raises some VERY interesting thoughts. Two phrases in particular resonated quite strongly with me.

The first, “We are sacrificing conversation for mere connection“, occurs to me over and over in my work day. One of my primary ways of getting information is through microblogging (the internal equivalent of FB posting or Tweets). I cannot keep up with it. And yet – when I need specific information quickly, I always get an answer by tagging specific individuals. I am learning how to skim and sort and work my own triage on the incoming information. This is a topic on which I suspect I will spend a LOT more time here. My best friend Sarah and I spent endless hours swinging on the swings in our back yard, building imaginary worlds with words, talking through scenes and actions. I don’t remember us ever just sitting about and staring at the TV (Okay, yes I do. Her father had one of the first color TVs and I went to watch The Wizard of Oz at her house so I could FINALLY see the Horse of a Different Color and the Yellow Brick Road and the Ruby Slippers). I watched my son and his friends on their play dates. They played side-by-side with their computer games. Very few of their games involved interacting directly with each other with no middle-tool. What will THEIR children do on their playdates?

The other phrase that struck home was “If we are not able to be alone, we are only going to know how to be lonely.” This, in my opinion, goes to the heart of so much psychological therapy. If we do not love ourselves, how can we be loveable? If I cannot be alone with myself and enjoy myself and feel at peace with myself, how can I ever find happiness? Happiness will always be something that must be supplied externally. I’m not saying that external validation or recognition is a bad thing or that it’s not extremely beneficial. We all love to be appreciated. But the beauty of loving oneself and having internal faith is that no one can take it away. It tends not to wear out, or be invisible when it’s needed most. If you love yourself and believe in yourself, that confidence and self-respect shows. Humans are curious creatures. If we see someone who exudes confidence and self-respect, we tend to share that confidence and respect.

Microblogging, FB, tweeting – sure, that’s fun and has its place. But for me, they are like grabbing a cup of water from an onlooker as you run by in the marathon. It’s enough to tide you over until the end of the race, when you need to drink deeply and nourish yourself. We need the deep drink. Over the last year I have made a conscious effort to make sure that I meet with my friends F2F on as regular a basis as we can. Obviously that’s not possible with some. So we’ve gotten back in the habit of writing newsy emails. For some people writing doesn’t work, it takes long phone calls. Whatever the method, I’ve tried to make the contact be conversation, not mere 140 character connecting. It’s too hard for me to quench my thirst with dozens of one liners.

Time to wrap this up. I’m going to the well to drink deep – brunch with a friend. L’chaim, friends!

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