Unplug and Interact

As a child, I remember “pretending” not to hear my mother when she would yell, “Clean your room!” or “Get in the car!” She’d call out time and time again, and I’d do my best acting work – looking at her with big, blinking doe eyes and replying, “Oh, I didn’t hear you.” But I heard her.

Today, people are ignoring each other at an alarming rate, and it’s not just the kids. Headphones and AirPods have become part of our daily checklist when we head out the door: wallet, phone, keys, sunglasses, headphones.

And why wouldn’t we constantly be taking in content? There’s so much out there! Between Spotify playlists, podcasts, and catching up on The Bachelor, who could blame us? But is all of this auditory consumption hurting us?

I don’t think it’s controversial to say that as the population grows and technology advances, we look for ways to sequester ourselves from the day-to-day small talk for which we now have such little patience. Why should I discuss the weather with Nancy from finance if I can listen to Gwyneth Paltrow discuss Meditation in the Modern World on her Goop podcast? Why listen to cars honking and people yelling when I can listen to my Yacht Rock playlist? I think I have an answer to why you should listen to the noise around you.

We’re forgetting how to connect as a society. Even adults don’t make eye contact like they did in the “good ole days,” so our youth follows suit. We’re becoming a culture of drones, living in our heads when the real world is going on around us. So, I’d like to propose a challenge.

Take off the headphones. Leave them at home, as a matter of fact. Walk down the street and take in everything around you: kids hurrying to school, neighbors waving, maybe even a verbal altercation between frustrated drivers. Look at the people and world around you and then…interact with them! Say hello to your barista, let a car go ahead of you, and make it a point to make eye contact with as many people in the office as you can. If we forget to keep up social niceties, we may find ourselves forever stuck to our devices, and there’s only so much Gwyneth Paltrow content one can take in.

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