In a lonely moment recently, I phoned a neighbour suggesting we meet-up for a coffee. She replied:
"It won't be next week as the grandchildren are off from school
and at this stage Monday or Tuesday the following week look a bit busy.
"So What about Wednesday week around lunchtime?”
- My reply was thus, ’I was thinking in about ten minutes or so, ah but never mind.”
One could be forgiven for thinking I was dealing with a high-flying executive, but in truth she’s a person on a disability benefit who really doesn’t have a very active life. Yet for some strange reason, people these days feel it an imperative to play hard to get. I personally, have a thousand and one things that keep me busy, but if I don’t take timeout to communicate with others, my day seems empty, no matter what I may have achieved. As social animals we need to interact as humans have done since time immemorial, e.g. at the water pump or by a river while washing clothes. In more recent times people chatted over the garden fence, but nowadays social media has seemingly taken over. Alas, while being extremely useful for keeping in touch with people all over the world, does social media really have to destroy the art of conversation?
So what ever happened to spontaneity? What has happened to those random acts of kindness where a neighbour would bake a few muffins and invite half the street in for a cuppa? It doesn’t happen anymore and more’s the pity. When neighbours gathered and talked about the weather, at least there was an opportunity to check-up on older folk in the street, nowadays there’s nothing and we, as a society are the poorer for it. During the blitz in London, people relied on each other to get through as no one really knew whether they would be around in 24 hours, such was the way things were at that time. If you were offered a cup of tea you would grasp the moment!
Alas, things are so desperate now in Britain that British PM, Theresa May has appointed a Minister for Loneliness. Ultimately, this begs the question, Are we happier when the going is good or when life is tough!
Sadly, I concede the battle for dialogue has been lost to technology. People are hooked in a big way and are duped into believing the next call they will get on their smartphone will be really important. Conversation these days is constantly punctuated by smartphone ringtones or Messenger buzzes. “Oh I’ll just get this,” is the plaintive cry and dialogue is completely destroyed.