If you get to know me, you might like me
The direction our culture is going causes me concern for the level of indifference we have towards the people around us. It’s really only came to my mind lately. But it’s something that stands out to me. I’ve noticed that so much of the time when given the chance to greet others, or even say a kind word, the opportunity is missed. I believe the culture has begun to draw increasingly inward. To me, that’s a cause for concern.
Given the prevalence and the meteoric rise of social media over the past few years, the thought that we are becoming less social seems somewhat counterintuitive. You would think that all of these online opportunities to meet and get to know people would lead to greater social interaction. But the result has seemed to be the opposite. I think the internet has made it easier to connect with people, but it’s a different kind of social interaction. Chatting with someone on an SMS service is different than actually communicating with someone face-to-face. A person wonders: Will the rise of the internet lead to this next generation being socially deficient and unable to communicate directly with each other? You certainly hope not, but looking at the evidence makes it seem more likely.
I’ve just paid attention myself lately, and with the limited amount of social opportunities, and places to interact with people, I have been thinking, “How does anyone meet other people anymore — not only meet, much less get to know someone else?” You go from your workplace to home, to the grocery store, and home again with little else in-between. It seems strange to me since I’ve started paying attention to it. There was a time when anyone in a neighborhood knew their neighbors. That seems to be getting less and less today. I believe the more emotionally connected a culture is, the stronger it is. The more you understand your neighbor, the more willing you are to reach out to them. This internet culture seems to be leading to outcomes we couldn’t have predicted, and certainly some we wouldn’t have wanted. What has led to greater connectedness in virtuality, has led to less connectedness in reality.
By extension, all of this has led me to think about all the opportunities that are missed in getting to know someone else — not only the opportunities I miss, but the ones others miss. If I’m honest and think about it, I believe most people would like me once they got to know me — not everybody, but most people. Don’t misunderstand, I don’t say that in arrogance. But I do think enough of myself to think I’m worth getting to know. I believe I have something to offer other people. And I would venture to guess most other people feel the same way. I believe most everybody has something to offer and likeable qualities that others would find appealing. The difficulty comes, though, in meeting those people and, further, getting to know them. How do you open that door into someone else’s life? And then how do you get them to invite you in? Well, I guess it takes initiative on our part. A friendly greeting followed by ensuing questions. Once initiated, the opportunity is there. Regardless of the outcome, at least we’ve created the opportunity.