Sorry for the F-BOMB, but lately I’ve been thinking about the days before smart phones, instant web access, and constant distraction. A time long long long ago… okay maybe like 5-6 years for some folks, but the last few days I have been feeling disheartened in man and I think technology might be partly to blame. Specifically two instances have occurred that have made me want to go all ‘old-fashioned’ on society and turn off my iPhone.
First off, we got our first ever noise complaint. I was shocked – well I’ll admit yes volume was an issue for this one time (usually we’re quite), but I was hurt that my neighbors would so quickly turn me over to the leasing office (security visited our house how embarrassing). Why didn’t they come knock and voice their issue to me? I mean they didn’t even knock on the wall. But, then it donned on me – I have never even met my neighbors. I have awkwardly walked down the hall and taken turns avoiding eye contact, but I have never introduced myself or even said ‘how are you?’. How bizarre. In fact aside from 4-5 other people, I have never met anyone in our building, even though we spend copious amounts of time in the common areas since there are fabulous amenities at our apartment building. I started to think ‘why?’, why had I never extended myself to them? The truth is – I’m selfish I guess. It would take time from my ‘busy’ day to introduce myself, I would have to exert the extra energy to ‘care’ about them, and finally having anonymity is pleasing especially if you are ‘loud’ like me it means accountability goes down. Sigh. So why do I blame technology for this? Well I don’t have to make new friends or feel obligated to make friends with my next door neighbors because I already have quite a few friends – 231 by Facebook’s count. All this has just led me to want to go beyond my ‘social network’ and to meet the people I interact with on a daily basis. What a novel concept. I have given myself the personal challenge to start introducing myself to people I pass regularly or interact with. I’ll have to update because I am sure that people these days will think my ‘curteosy’ is down right CRAZY. Just for your information though, I did write two hand written notes expressing my sincerest apologies for the noise and tried to hand deliver them (neither neighbor was home so I tucked in their door).
This however leads me to my next instance. Yesterday I left my grandmother’s to run and errand and while driving down the street I noticed an elderly lady sitting on her sidewalk waving at me. I suddenly realized she was trying to get my attention NOT say ‘hi’ to me. So I slammed on the breaks and hopped out of the car. Another concerned neighbor was on her way over to offer help as well, but it turns out the poor lady was trying to pick up trash on her lawn and took a forward tumble. I told her I was so glad she didn’t break anything, given the last fall my grandma took left her with 3 broken ribs. She was grateful, but wary for me to see her into her house – perhaps mortified that she fell or maybe because she realized being elderly and alone is very scary or because I have an armful of tattoos and could be considered scary to an elderly lady. Whatever it was, once I made sure she was settled, and her life long neighbor came to help and call her daughter I decided to head out. I am so glad she was alright aside from some eventual bruises, she escaped an ER visit and I did let her know she was darn lucky for that. BUT the thing that stood out to me above all was that she had been siting there for 20-30 minutes. How many other people had passed and not helped? How many neighbors sat watching her until I slammed on the breaks and stopped? How have we all become so selfish that we cannot even help someone in need that is actually begging for help? Is it the fact that we are desensitized from all the ‘Homeless need help anything helps’ signs that bombard Denver and the country, or are we merely defined by our own selfish desires? I think it is both – being bothered takes time and sometimes makes people vulnerable, but I for one am tired of it. I’m not only going to introduce myself to my peers, but I am going to start seeing people for people. I may be inconvenienced or wish I had my personal space, but I think that personal formalities and interaction is what is necessary for me to grow as a person. I’m tired of texting and making lofty promises and declarations to friends and family via the iPhone or internet, I’m sick of eInvites, and thank you emails. I’m going to downgrade my reliance on technology and its selfishness for a moment and try to become more human.
I think from now on, I am going to be physically present and mindful – no matter how awkward it gets.