As humans, we have the unique and astonishing ability to communicate with one another in a plethora of ways, one of those ways is spoken word, one trait that makes us the most highly evolved species of mammal in our galaxy. Yet a disturbing trend is starting to take shape, we are falling silent. Why have we fallen silent? The answer, as is usually the case, is not so simple. You see recently I watched a viral video that I’m sure many of you have seen entitled “Look Up”, a cautionary poem depicting what happens to our lives as we stray away from verbal communication in lieu of text and social media. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z7dLU6fk9QY
Every day, I take a pretty packed bus of fellow Disney cast members to work at the Magic Kingdom from the “Westclock” bus station, I put this in quotes because the coordinates of this station do lie in the west at all, I guess someone thought it sounded cool. On most days, no one says a word to each other, no, instead, the 30 or so passengers on the bus are staring blankly, almost catatonically at their smart phones. Seemingly none of them are getting any enjoyment from whatever is occupying their attention on the screen as their facial expressions never change. If by chance their gaze is interrupted by eye contact with a fellow rider, they immediately look away as if they had mistakenly stared too long at The Arc of the Covenant from Indiana Jones.
Now, this is where the issue becomes a bit messy because, the same thing that is bringing us closer together, is driving us further apart, something that has been evolving for centuries, and something I’m using at this very moment. Yes, I’m talking about technology, an undeniable cornerstone of perpetuating life itself by way of medical breakthroughs, domestic utilities, and bringing about the concept of globalization. Technology makes a lot possible. Friends on opposite ends of the earth can exchange soup recipes on Skype, or a news reporter can keep you up to date to the very second at a presidential inauguration. But to that end, social media allows individuals to create false realities, and we do, over and over, every day. Consider the following: we put our best photo of ourselves as the first thing everyone sees when they visit our homepage, as well as only the most fun parties we’ve attended, the best food, etc. And the thing is, it makes sense.
Who wants the mundane details of their lives to be shared with the masses? No one. That’s why our profile pictures aren’t of us just getting out of bed, and why none of us have ever created the post: “Having a blast waiting for my package to process at the post office!” #blessed. It would be unbecoming decidedly bizarre to share these bits of information out of context. You get the idea. They say perception is reality, but it’s not, reality is reality, and we shouldn’t be afraid to share our real lives with the people around us. This is not to suggest that we should tell everyone everything, we must have a little more decorum in the public and private arenas in life.
So what do we do? We can’t turn our backs on technology, it provides us with too many benefits that are too vast and varied to describe here, but let’s open up a bit. Everyone has a story to tell, and you’d be surprised what you can learn about someone, or from someone, just by smiling and saying hello. Let’s not use technology as an excuse for the easy way out, let’s have some candid moments where we have to be put on the spot, think on our feet, and we are not flying with the safety net of being able to revise our thoughts until we deem them suitable for consumption. Maybe you’ll meet your one true love, maybe you’ll get the job opportunity of a lifetime, or maybe the person sitting across from you on that bus will know just how you feel. There’s only one way to find out.