Everywhere you turn today there is a strong desire for bettering ourselves: finding ways to experience life, self-care, diets, sleep aids… All for self-fulfillment. Add our current state of technological availability which allows for almost instant gratification from information, resources, and opportunities… our ability to meet our individual wants is at an all-time high! We are now enabled to project and absorb exactly what we believe we need: instantly communicate with our imaginary internet friends, purchase whatever product we suddenly desire, and get lost in our favorite books or show with the press of a button. Could this effort to be so “self” aware be detrimental, in any way, to the evolution of social interaction?
In our effort to be considerate of our "self", simple social skills are being abandoned. Do you sometimes dangerously speed because you are in a rush to get to your destination? When was the last time you held a 15 minute conversation without checking your phone? Are you guilty of forgetting to say "please" and "thank you" because you are mentally distracted? Have you ever ignored a friend's question because you allowed your mind to wander to something you forgot to do? Do you celebrate your "multi-tasking" ability so you can justify not giving someone your complete attention?
What about that time someone cut you off in traffic because HE was in a rush to get home? What about the person who parks in the handicap space simply because it was the closest available spot? Although usually unintentional, it is easy to get self-absorbed in our own immediate wants/needs and forget its effect on the people around us. Yet if we see someone else being self-absorbed or self-serving we throw around terms of selfishness or uncaring. We demand attention while our immediate needs are all-consuming. We are not able to maintain proper social relationships – either inside or outside of our homes.
"Use each interaction to be the best, most powerful version of yourself."
- When we talk to someone, make it a point to listen to how THEY are doing - not only calling when you have a need they can satisfy.
- Put the technology down! Give someone the gift of your undivided attention.Remembering to say "please" and "thank you".
- Take time to be PRESENT. Appreciate what is around you, right now. Don’t worry about what you left at work or what you still have to do. Focus on those with you right now and celebrate the time spent together!
- Make an effort to be social. Is there a friend who lives nearby but because you are “too busy” you have not seen them in months? Take the time to do something as simple as a walk, a meal, or shopping.
- Make notes of what is important! Friends or loved ones may share something important happening in their life. Take the time to follow up and see how their event unfolded and if there is a need for support. Let them know they can lean on you if they need it.
- Be the friend you would like to have. If you are someone who likes hugs, make sure you give them freely. If you value chats on the phone, reach out to your network and give them the same gift.
The decision is ours: we can choose to be the person we wish to interact with or choose to disconnect and actively pursue caring for ourselves. Considering our entire world is constructed by our social interactions, both have a vital part to play in tomorrow’s world.