I have spent the past year learning to listen rather than to hear; and learning to question to understand, rather than to simply receive answers.
And, from this, I have discovered a concerning trend: It seems that over the past few years of the digital boom, we, as human beings, have become less happy, less satisfied, and more lonely, more disgruntled.
Yes, it is a depressing discovery, but I truly believe it is something we need to address before this becomes a pandemic.
It all comes down to bringing IRL interactions back into our lives.
When the early digital boom hit, we were so mesmerized by the ability to be better and faster: suddenly, we could share an article with all of our Facebook friends within a few clicks. Then, we realized the opportunity to be even better, and even faster. And, soon emerged the option to comment on and share articles with all of our Facebook and Twitter friends – with just one click.
In this chase after efficiency, we continuously condensed and further packaged our IRL interactions into minimalistic, one-action units. An originally verbalized “I like that!” was packaged into a thumbs up icon, which upon one simple click, notified the individual and his/her network that someone was a fan of it. An original process of surveying of a room, listening to conversations, then artfully asking to join in was packaged into an effortless, automatic intel feed of nearby individuals and their discussions that anyone could jump in on. No etiquette required.
These tightly-packaged interactions have allowed us to quantify our worth. So, we work hard to publish the right content to gain followers, deem Likes, receive mentions – all to prove that we are worthy. With these metrics for worthiness and/or success, our proportions have inverted. Our original 80% of our time with friends IRL and 20% with friends online has become 80% managing our digital personas, leaving only 20% for our IRL friends.
And, that is why we have become less happy, less satisfied, and more lonely, more disgruntled. We are born as social creatures who require IRL interactions and processes to find our inner happy. We have become so entrenched in quantification and optimization (a la digital), that we have forgotten about the value and necessity of IRL interactions – and how it feeds our souls.
This deep craving of IRL elements has spurred a defragmentation of the uber-efficient packages we’ve created, doting back on our analog lives: we convert mp3s to records; we create gifs that focus in on one small detailed action; we even brew our own beer. We are beginning to revisit the process of things, all to savor the slowing down of and the art of the details – all in an effort to re-inject meaning, happy, and comfort into our actions and lives.
Subconsciously, we are realizing that faster is not better.
And, consciously we need to remind each other to let life aerate a bit, to take slower sips, to allow it to roll over our palates, to experience and savor the beautiful undertones.
That. Is better.