As I sit in my kitchen listening to the endless Florida rain, I’m feeling a bit nostalgic. Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about the feeling of seperateness – how modern society provides a million different ways for humans to connect via the internet and yet we seem to be more disconnected than ever before. I miss local radio stations with old-fashioned disc jockeys and not knowing what tune was going to play next. I miss television with rabbit ears and waiting all week to watch Saturday morning cartoons.
We live in the pre-planned, pick-your-own, have-it-your-way-all-the-time era. Netflix is cued to play only the shows we want to watch at the time most convenient for us, and music is selected for us based on our predictable pattern of past choices. Maybe this is why I feel like I’m masturbating all the time – there is no sense of spontaneity in anything we do anymore because everything is available all the time with no waiting and no anticipatory excitement – just dull, flat, lukewarm enjoyment.
I know it’s trite and has been discussed ad nauseum, and perhaps saying these things defines me as ancient, old, uncool, and not part of the current lifestyle – but what I see in this age of extreme convenience is profound unhappiness, impatience, and less tolerance for others. Everyone expects everything to take 7 seconds or less and frankly, I find I’m overwhelmed and bored at the same time. I want to suffer through that song I “can’t stand” on the radio that the D.J. plays every hour – you know, the one we hear twenty years later that we know all the words to because it was played so frequently on the hit radio station when we were young. I want to stand around the water cooler with my co-workers discussing if Carrie will finally admit that she loves Mr. Big in next week’s episode. And when that Musak version of “Purple Rain” pops on in the elevator, and we all start quielty humming to it, I want us to remember that no matter how different we may seem to one another that we are connected by our humanity. Put down your smartphones and smile at someone today. Ask them about a show they watched or a song they heard recently that reminds them of their childhood. Slow down and take time to connect in person with your friends, your neighbors, your community.