As I practice my words here, and work out what I am feeling and experiencing in my life through these words, I’m recognizing the courage of emotionally connecting with myself is different from emotionally connecting with other people.
For those to whom I feel the most emotionally connected, it’s because I’ve sat next to them on a couch and listened to them bear their soul. It’s because I’ve laughed with them, done more than one face palm with them and I’ve gently shoved them in the arm when they say something bratty. It’s because I’ve sat across the table from them over coffee or a meal and looked them in the eye as I’ve shared my own struggles and pains. These moments, small and sure, fill in the cracks missing from those who do not enter in to my space.
It was already easy to become emotionally withdrawn from the world in order to protect myself. And technology has not only made it even easier, but socially acceptable. With a text message, I can edit if I want. Ignore it if I want. Others do the same to me. This is how it is now.
There is a measure of this that can be done in person, but you cannot ignore the person who is standing right next to you and asking you a tough question. You can’t un-see the look on their face, and the emotion in their eyes. But you can turn your phone off when someone texts you a tough question.
“We expect more from technology and less from each other…. And I believe it’s because technology appeals to us most where we are most vulnerable. And we are vulnerable. We’re lonely, but we’re afraid of intimacy. And so from social networks to sociable robots, we’re designing technologies that will give us the illusion of companionship without the demands of friendship.”http://www.ted.com/talks/sherry_turkle_alone_together
This is why we don’t answer some text messages, emails, and facebook messages but still might think we are “good” friends with that person. That is why we feel connected (because we can find out what is going on with them by checking twitter, instagram or facebook) but why we aren’t really friends with these people until we’ve had those real conversations. These real conversations are part of the demands of friendship, and as long as we have the illusion of being connected with a person, we will be lying to ourselves.
Yes. I said it. We are lying to ourselves.
We are afraid to be vulnerable with each other and social media and our phone have become our armor. Our lie.
“People get so used to being short-changed with real conversation and so used to getting by with less that they become almost willing to dispense with people all together.” – Sherry Turkle
I am calling for a new kind of relationship, a new kind of friendship.
One where it’s ok that it’s hard. Ok that it’s messy.
One where that feels good. And right. And more importantly, better.
It’s better because it’s real.
This is what it means to be emotionally connected. A refusal to detach from another and take the courageous steps towards someone who has the capacity to hurt you, but trusting that they will choose not to. And guess what? That is an expectation.