Monday, February 09, 2009

On Human Behavior: Part I - The Lament

(When I told a friend of mine that I was going to begin this series, she suggested that it be called “Why People Suck.” While I do agree with the sentiment, I decided to use a different title in the hopes of actually being taken seriously. I have a few things to get off my chest, so we’ll see how long this series lasts.)

I remember hearing many years ago about the potential danger of society’s increased reliance on technology. The reasoning was that an improved ability to communicate for people who are separated by distance could lead to a deterioration in their ability to keep in contact with people close to them. Unfortunately, it seems that this has become the case. I can get my friend from Rochester, NY on the phone whenever I want, but, for the life of me, can’t get in touch with my friend who lives 5 miles away.

And what, I ask, can the excuse be? Is it that tired cliché, “oh, I’ve just been so busy lately”? For the record, that’s terrible reasoning. I’d wager that just about anyone who lives in a metropolitan area can make the same claim. In other words, get over it. Everyone’s busy.
It seems to me too that the increased number of ways that we have to communicate tends to make us more responsible for keeping up with our friends, instead of less responsible. For example, if I want to talk to a friend of mine, I can call her on the telephone, call her on her cell phone, send her a text message, write a letter, email her, send a message/comment through MySpace, chat/message/comment on Facebook, leave a comment on her blog, or drive to her house and say hello. With all of these methods of communication, it strikes me that people are fresh out of excuses to not keep in contact. Even if it’s not feasible for someone to talk for a long period of time, it is not difficult for someone to use one of the multitudes of communication at their disposal to be polite and let someone know that they're valued and have not been forgotten.

For example, I have a friend who called me and left a message about a year ago. I couldn’t take the call, as I was on a date, but I called back and left a message within 2 hours. I’ve never gotten a return call, and that was a year ago. Subsequent attempts to call my friend have proved useless.

I don’t get it. Why has it become socially acceptable to ignore people with the excuse that we’re “busy?” There's an even bigger can of worms when you realize that certain people are getting called back, and you're not. In the day and age we live in, we have so many different ways to express ourselves and keep in contact with friends and family. I think it’s high time we used them.


Christina said...

Good thoughts. I wonder if the very fact that we have so many more means of communicating makes us feel closer than we are. Because we feel a false kind of closeness to people (they're only a click away, so it seems), we forget to REALLY TRULY communicate with them. And I think the best kind of communication happens when everyone puts down their phones, closes their laptops, and sits face to face with another person. My two cents. ;)

Kelly said...

I cannot agree more with this blog, especially the last paragraph. I still think it should be called "Why People Suck." At least make it a subtitle. :)

Adam said...

Actually, Christina, I've found that some of these expansions in my ability to keep in contact with people have helped me to deepen many relationships that I would have let slip otherwise. For example, there are a few people from school that I wouldn't ever talk to at all that I now communicate with regularly through the wonders of the internet.

I also wonder if you are putting too high a value on REAL TRUE communication. In my experience, there are some people that I almost felt like begging them, "can we just keep this on the surface, please?" I'm all for having heartfelt conversations with people, but I think that only certain people deserve that privilege. My three cents. ;-)