The world of Twitter and beyond into the SoMe wilderness never seems to fail in delivering wondrous people to discover and know. Connecting this way certainly doesn’t feel like it’s “not real” when I’m chatting to people (apart from those conversational tweeting accounts with a logo and no face or name). There will always be a debate of whether platforms enhance connectedness, by crossing geographical boundaries with real-time video calls, or reduce the quality of our face to face social when you’re out to dinner for two and using your phones to tweet. It’s probably both. Overall, It’s actually quite brilliant and I’ve experienced tweeting out a question that triggers altruistic responses, generosity and often resultant comedy. It’s not the technology, but what it enables. I’ve been a SoMe user for 21 years and I’m not ‘tech savvy’. Instead, it’s grown my social.
Human connection is a powerful and essential thing. We knew this before articles like this one about the potential consequences of loneliness upon health. Mortality even. Yet it’s not about the quantity of people that supports health. We can be in a crowd, with a group of friends, in a busy social environment, and still feel lonely: a sense of disconnect. It’s the quality that matters. The sense of connect, through it’s breadth and depth. To truly be seen matters. That acute attention, positive regard, acceptance, matters.
So I wonder then why people connect and why people meet. Incongruency and opacity puzzles me, in that visible head-scratching furrowed-brow way. Do we all have an agenda? Is there always a reason? A purpose? Is there an unwritten rule somewhere that says we need one (I missed it).
How long is the acceptable time to chat before getting to that bit? After we’ve spent a good 10mins chatting and listening and laughing? ‘Oh, I see…my mistake. I thought we were just getting to know ea….’. The casual coffee meet ends with a list of actions and instantly the dynamics change to those of placing demands. You want something from me, and I should be wanting something from you. It quickly reminds me of colleagues who call and switch on the three key questions picking up on the last time we spoke and making sure they ask about my holiday, my dog, my kids (blah blah). The same answers are repeated so I’m sharing enough but not too much. Just ask. My likelihood of giving isn’t dependant on you remembering my partner’s name. More likely, on whether you ever asked “how are you?” with space for more than “fine thanks you?” and without fearing a real answer because you don’t know what to do with it (even thought it’s not yours). Relationships span every interaction.
We know so much about people and connecting. We have so many opportunities to connect, and get to know each other. To see, notice and appreciate. Both the passion and purpose emanant in your eyes are bigger than small talk.