Do I need to explain?
There was a time, to be social, you would see someone in person, physically visit, sit down and talk with them. They would welcome you in, and you would share a cup of coffee or tea and tarry away several hours talking because you didn’t know how long it would be before you saw this person again. Time was of great value and who you spent it with let them know they were of great value, too.
Each person took care in their appearance, put their best foot forward in dress, manner, and politeness, using decent language in front of each other as to cause no alarm or embarrassment. Each would choose their words wisely.
For the more agrarian society, which used to be a hundred years ago, being social meant you would put on your non-work clothes, hitch up the horses or mules to the wagon and head into town or to church to present yourself.
An ice cream “social” used to be a gathering at the little one-room church my grandparents would go to meet with friends and family for fun.
Now, it seems most people don’t give a damn and interact with each other while sitting alone in the dark in their underwear punching lettered keys on their phone.
Before the invention of the phone, people wrote letters in longhand to stay in touch. The phone made it easier to connect with people, to extend the reach, to be more friendly. You could visit with people across town without braving the weather; you could circumvent the globe. You could hear their voice, read their intonations, try to understand and empathize with their fellow man.
The costs of phone calls for decades being prohibitively high, folks would bridge the gaps in phone calls with letters to fill in the blanks and save those long-distance phone calls for those special occasions.
Along came the radio, followed quickly by the TV. People could interact without having to do anything, except to sit there and listen or watch what was said. They didn’t have to leave their cars or houses to get their social interaction fix, though it was one-way. They didn’t have to be dressed and could speak their minds by yelling at the “idiot” boxes since no one was the wiser and they could get their unchecked emotions off their chests. They didn’t have to be considerate or worry how it impacted other people.
In a matter of a few years, social people became lesser so as more stayed indoors and let the social come to them. The population of INTJs exponentially bloomed, and many failed to learn the basics of how to get along.
Late to the game of social media, that is all it was to me. A game, I was told, was supposed to get my name out there for the sake of what I was hawking. For me, it was my books and no one said anything about being social.
The media is a burgeoning, crowded field where all-comers seem to be trying to obtain some Kardashian-style celebrity status. To do that and stand out, the digital voices have become louder, coarser, expressing maximum outrage challenging the heights of decency to break out, appear unique, and worthy of notice.
It has reached the point where everyone is in the game and no one is left to pay attention.
When we all seek attention, none of us get it. When the world is racing by, the only thing that stands out is being still.
So, hurriedly extolling wants, desires, opinions in a world flooded with loud voices and opinions, millions clamoring to express themselves, hardly anyone slows down to hear another.
For the sake of actually being social, we need to stop and listen.
Once was the time, it was said, ‘if you couldn’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.’ We need to return to those times.
If you don’t like someone, keep it to yourself. Imagine every time you write or say something, that the person is seated in front of you and you have to bear to see the look on their face.
I begrudgingly have email, a smart phone for texting, a website, a blog, two Facebook accounts, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, and none of that is making me more social. What makes me more social if I do not act, speak, and write words worth hearing?
To be branded as “Mr. Nice Guy,” who practices what he preaches, is okay with that guy. Oh, by the way, did you hear he wrote a book or two?
Join with me on my quest to be happy despite the evils in the world, because no matter how great our nation is, no matter how horrible it is, how many technological advancements there are or how much debt I have, or the country has–it has been that way before and will be again.
AND, it could always be worse.
I visit and talk with people every day. I see their faces light up when I say ‘hello’ and welcome their day. My small band of friends has grown from me, myself, and I, to a host of people I see throughout the day.
Imagine if that were amped by ten, a hundred, or a million-times fold, people smiling at each other, generally pleased to meet them.
Learn to smile and say hello–that is the best social network we have to share.
Also published on Medium.