I see fewer young people who are totally plugged in and alone. Those I do see have Facebook, twitter, and other social media programs on their laptop screens. Their smart phones listing unimportant unread text messages as they listen to music. They Facebook while talking to someone on their phone. And these people look miserable. Thankfully, we are getting smarter about what makes us happy, and too much electronics is not it.
We are both physical and social animals
We are social creatures, but we are also physical creatures. We need to be looked at by the person we are talking to. We need some type of physical contact with the person we are talking too. A touch on the shoulder, a punch on the arm, a handshake when meeting or leaving. Sight and touch during conversation is almost as important as the actual conversation we are having.
One way crafted conversations
One way, loud one way conversations are really annoying. I appreciate the person who is holding a phone conversation through their bluetooth receiver. You can hear them mumble, but it is so quiet, I at least really have no clue what the conversation is about.
Distracting noise makers
On the other hand there are they skypers, the face time crowd, and other electronic conversation makers. They are loud, and annoying. Occasionally, I feel I want to join their conversation which they are freely sharing with the whole room.
Adding to feelings of loneliness and separation
Some of these conversations going on in coffee shops are genuine important exchanges of information. For many, electronic conversations are attempts to thwart feeling lonely. These people should shut off their toys, and talk to the person sitting a table away who is also trying to stave off feelings of loneliness and isolation. They both would find chatting face to face more rewarding and satisfying.
Present in the conversation
Think of how much better it is to actually sit across from someone, speak to them, be able to watch their body language, their facial expressions, and hear the nuance in their voice. Much better than sending out and receiving carefully crafted blurbs of text, or short, cutesy one liners with no real meaning attached to their text messages. Text with no real meaning is not only not being present, it is wasted time and space.
Reversing social behaviors
In my microcosm view of the the world as seen in a coffee shop, our social behavior is again changing. We completed the experiment of being wrapped in electronics, and most of us are now going back to our warmer more physical world of people.
We prefer to sit with the people we talk with. We want to hold a book in our hands. We want to share. We want to return to our roots, and be real people, not actors. We are moving away from the world of the cyborg, sitting alone, surrounded by electronics, never touched, never touching.
Make more friends
A behavior which I picked up on came from a bit of trivia from a behavioral study. Young people have about 20% less friends than their parents did at the same age. I used to see groups of people standing in a circle, texting people who are somewhere else. Standing alone in a crowd texting someone else who is also probably alone in a crowd. Having a few physical friends are more rewarding than one hundred electronic friends.
What about personal electronics
The question now is what should our electronics to do for us? How do we mix living in a world of physical sensations – sight, touch, and smell, what do our electronics need to do to complete the picture. I wish I knew, I would be the next billionaire.