A number of months ago I was walking my dog and I had a strange interaction with a complete stranger on the street that made me laugh, feel disappointed and confused all at the same time.
I was walking towards them with my dog, Baci and as we got to within hearing distance of each other I let out what felt like an automatic, pre-programmed response pattern and I said “Good Morning, How are you?”
By the time I had finished my sentence we were just about to pass each other, shoulder to shoulder and without making any eye contact they replied to my automatic, pre-programmed impulse with their own and said “Good Thanks, How are you?”
What came next was the weird bit:
Neither of us slowed down or properly listened or responded authentically at all. We both kept walking in our different and opposite directions, not breaking stride. By the time they had given their response, we were already becoming out of earshot and on our merry way.
Words of connection that felt completely disconnected.
I wonder if the same disconnected moments of connection are happening on a lot of streets each day?
I giggled for a moment and then thought, wow the world is a bit off-kilter and I am complicit in it.
Welcome to today’s dose of wisdom. Happy Wednesday!
Today we are talking about:
Feeling disconnected in a world of hyper connection.
It felt unnerving, disappointing and confusing in that moment. AND it made me giggle at the weirdness.
Did you know that as a result of the time spent in isolation due to covid, social commentary reports about our population becoming socially deskilled? We have become more socially awkward and have had to re-learn how to engage with each other? This is “a thing” that is happening for so many.
The small social cues of passing someone in the street, speaking briefly a few words to the person who pours your coffee at a cafe, speaking to the checkout person or the lollypop person at the traffic stop – they were all small opportunities for social interaction that vanished with lockdown and we became unskilled.
We also went into our separate little burrows like little animals hibernating in winter. We became more insular and less attuned to each other. Maybe we also developed instinctive strategies for self preservation to endure the uncertainty and distress of that time too.
The heavy impact of devices has also deskilled us all and especially has had a huge impact on the teenagers of today. Many articles speak of how teens are becoming socially unskilled as they rely on tech instead of face to face to communicate and have had less of their lifetime in the pre-device world.
So how do we feel less disconnected in this current world? – by leaning in when there is a moment for real human connection in an authentic way.
For me, in that exchange on the street with that stranger, maybe I could have met that moment with more intention. If I didn’t have time to stop (which I didn’t) I could have been more relational and just looked them genuinely in the eye and smiled and wished them a good morning. To catch a moment of genuine connection and meant it rather than play an automated script.
Maybe it’s about leaning into those moments that may feel socially awkward because we are out of practice and practice those social skills again. Leaning out from the now habitual impulse towards self-isolation that seems to have remained even though lockdown is over.
I would love to see your comments below about your experiences in stepping out in community. Has this “post-covid” world seemed different to you too?
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