Bones, Axes and Grudges
What a colorful and imaginative title, if I must say so myself. I have this habit. I stare at a screen and sometimes the craziest things roll off my fingers. Used to be, I’d stare at a notebook and have that happen, but this is 2013. Despite how I feel about the overuse of technology, specifically social media in an ineffective manner, I must admit that all technology isn’t necessarily bad technology. I can’t tell you how many, err, profound thoughts I lost when I had to solely depend on pen and paper. Not that I never use them anymore, because I still enjoy watching ink, especially purple ink, roll out of a pen, but computers have made things much quicker and easier, have they not?
But everything comes with a cost. While the efficiency of communications may have increased thanks to computers, the Internet and all that good stuff, I am going to wage a bet that many locally based relationships have and are suffering. Many of us need look no further than our current relationships to acknowledge that we “know” more people in cyberspace than we do in our immediate environment. Some of us would venture further to say that we like our cyber friends better than our land-based ones. The Internet is the place where, all day, cyber relationships bloom, blossom and die. People have axes to grind with people they’ve never met. Cliques are formed. Husbands and wives seek refuge in virtual affairs to avoid dealing with their real issues. Teenagers twerk, feign thug personas, flash jewelry and cash, and all kinds of other paraphernalia, trying to build reputations AND because they have too much unsupervised time on their hands. In other words, things can get mucky and rancid with all this technology.
Thank and curse the cosmos, I’m old enough to remember a much simpler time. More and more, I find myself yearning for those times. When family was the central focus. The immediacy with so many now is to find out who checked their status on Facebook, who’s twitting what on Twitter, what supplies do I need to go out and get to create the current Pinterest phenomenon. In other words, we have become mad behind social media. What could be a productive and useful tool is now used to further clutter our minds, addicting us to the point we can barely take care of the minimum around the house or care about the people around the house.
I’ve noticed the tensions in my own relationships outside of social media. There is less understanding, less patience, less kindness, less time spent growing together. On the contrary, I’ve seen this understanding, patience, kindness and willingness to grow together extended to total strangers across the Web. As I watch these changes unfold, I must say that I’m none too pleased. I’m so UNpleased, I’ve begun actively checking myself. I’m looking at how much time and energy I’m giving to people I can’t see, touch and feel versus those I can see, touch and feel.
Based loosely on a certain scripture—“How can you say you love me, whom you’ve never seen, yet hate your brother whom you see daily?”—I’m working to make sure I’m not extending more favor toward those whom I’m never seen than those whom I see daily. Not to say that makes those I haven’t seen bad people or people who receive no thought from me, but priorities are priorities. Take care of the inner circle first. That is the circle you will one day have to count on the most.
Many of us have become slaves to these systems of communications. As a reward, our intimate relationships are suffering. We’re comparing cyber ghosts and what they feed us as truth, to the people living in our homes, sharing our beds and raising our children, and we’re formulating in our heads that these people, these unseen, shape-shifting people, should have more importance, more relevance. That these people are more of a kindred spirit than those we’ve known for years, sometimes decades. Not to say that can’t be true, but it’s pretty daggoned hard to know this for certain if we’re so wrapped up in virtual worlds, we don’t fully participate in our real worlds.
It’s said whatever somebody is was always there. You can’t make them be something they are not. You can, however, be the catalyst for their true character bubbling to the surface. Social media has been that catalyst in a lot of ways, to the point where all we care about is how I feel, what I want, what I need.
What’s sad is that many believe we have become more sociable, more understanding, more conscious because of our reach into social media. We can’t even see the trick that has been played on us. How do you break up families? You give them diversions that lead them to believe they’re still families. You place these diversions in-house so that they’ll equate being under the same roof as doing family things. Sad, isn’t it, how far we have not come? Still falling for the ones and twos. Still thinking we’re free of mind. That the slave mentality doesn’t exist among us. Sad. Really, sad.
I actually detest the fact that people I personally know hit me on Facebook or in a text message, instead of picking up the phone and calling me. It has become our way to avoid true land-based socializing and relationship development. To avoid talking TO. We are addicted to talking AT people. Facebook, Twitter and all these places are our chance to be the speaker at the podium. We relish that. We have become a nation of one-liners. One-hundred-forty-character people. We’re all attention-deficit candidates. The word count on this blog far exceeds the time and attention MOST want to give to anything but superficial conversation with people they don’t know and, perhaps, will never know.
We think it speaks highly of our technological prowess to say silly shit like, “I no longer answer my phone,” “I don’t do voicemail, so don’t leave a message,” “I only accept text messages.” Resolution, growth and cohesiveness cannot come through one-way communication. It can’t come through Facebook. It can’t come through Twitter. Hell, it can’t come through this blog. It can only come through us as we sit right next to or right across from people and speak TO them, not at them, not through characters on a screen. Not with our timer set to 30 seconds before we lose interest and turn back to our virtual relationship that’s all smiley-faced emoticons while the shit has literally piled up in our actual homes. If we’re going to have bones, axes and grudges to pick, grind and bear, it damned sure shouldn’t be with the people “whom we see daily,” because we should be using the most important hours in our days, in our lives, to foster and cement those relationships. Life forbid we need them and not have them, since it is said it is better to have and not need than to need and not have. Check yourself.