Why are we afraid to talk to each other now?
Editor’s Note: Below is a commentary offered by one of our Informer Media Group writers. The following column is an opinion piece and the opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the staff and management of the Informer Media Group.
By Martha Rivera-Mijes
San Francisco Informer
Is the rapid advancement of technology decreasing our capability of human interaction? If so, is that why we want everything to be instantaneous all around us? Have IM and texting completely stripped us from our social skills, so much that when we are forced to share certain spaces with strange people we hide in our bubble, even if it is only for a few minutes, sometimes even seconds?
One very obvious example of this is the use of elevators and the anxiety it creates among the ones who ride them. Everyone who’s ever been in an elevator before is no stranger to this anxiety, especially if they’ve been in elevators during the last ten years. Everyone knows the drill: you get in, you stand quietly, and once the elevator gets to your floor you get out as quickly as possible. It all sounds very simple, but even though elevators only take seconds to transport people to various floors, inside the elevator time goes by much more slowly. This is primarily because the majority of people who come together in an elevator are strangers to each other; therefore, they stay silent and play with their smart phones instead. It’s obvious that there is no service in any elevators, yet people refuse to give up the comfort of having a device in their hand that prevents them from socially interacting with others.
Other great examples of this type of social anxiety are crosswalks and how they manage to frustrate almost every pedestrian in the streets. The phone syndrome also appears frequently among crosswalk users as it does in elevator riders. People who are waiting on either side of a crosswalk also manage to stay silent throughout the whole time they are standing and waiting for the green light man to indicate when it’s safe to cross the street. Not to mention the insane amount of times they push the crosswalk button. Every time someone new arrives to a crosswalk, they push the button as if the twenty other people already waiting there hadn’t already pushed the button before. This only illustrates how everyone is just pretty much aware of only themselves and on no one else.
Most people in these modern times don’t even notice all of these issues because they are used to them. However, 60 years ago people didn’t have fancy communication devices like our generation does; instead they used the most powerful tool they had – something that we still have – their words. In fact if you ask a person over the age of 40 how they met their first love, they might respond by saying that they met while walking in the street, or maybe even in some fancy elevator that brought them together. The fact of the matter is that people aren’t as comfortable as they should be around other people; we all have lives, and therefore we all have our own issues, so why not just crack a smile and say hello to the fellow human who in that moment in time has an actual similarity with you and thereby something that links you two together.