Relationships are at the Core of Humanity
Humans are communal beings.We are designed to engage in relationships.
Throughout history, we have lived in groups of 40-50 individuals and worked together for the common good of the group. It was unheard of for a human to be alone for any length of time, by choice, and literally every part of daily living was done in groups. In today’s society, we see, for the first time in history, that a person could live outside of human contact. They could order their groceries to be delivered, do their banking online, and still communicate with the outside world through the internet. It is normal and commonplace to have a “conversation” while texting another conversation or two or three. And a texting “conversation” has no end…. It is just a continuous litany with no real feedback of body language or intonation. It is perfectly normal in our modern society to leave a phone on the dinner table as a reminder to the people you are with that someone more important might need to reach you. A person can easily have 3000 “friends,” yet no one to call when they need a hand. Reports of loneliness and depression have skyrocketed, postpartum depression rates continue to increase, and PTSD has reached the highest numbers in history though fewer soldiers than ever even see active combat. Research suggests that all of that is due to the loneliness and isolation one feels as they struggle alone with a new baby or try to re-enter normal society after the tribal style of living when at war. When interviewed, teens report anxiety about face to face conversation, even with their peers, and describe arguments with friends and boyfriends as having no resolution. You can’t just “walk away,” which means the stress of an encounter lingers through text and social media.
I could go on and on about the links between social media and technology and dissatisfaction with life. Don’t get me wrong. I am not recommending that everyone burn their phones ala the bra burning at the 1968 Miss America pageant. Those damn things are expensive! But, I do think it’s time to bring it back to the dinner table…. Without your phone. I do think it’s time to relearn how to listen, how to read body language and know that it is more important that the actual words, and how to maneuver awkward moments in a relationship when the words just don’t come to your lips. I think it’s time for the people you are with to be more important than the people you aren’t. And I think it’s time to actively work on relationships… through thick and thin…. In sickness and in health. It’s really not hard to start moving the dial back that direction. Choose a simple action and repeat it daily and, over time, it will become your new normal. I think you’ll like it!
- Turn your phone to silent when you leave work. You’re in control of when you look at it!
- Set a weekly “date night” and enjoy it with a spouse, your teenagers, or a best friend
- Practice GRACE and FORGIVENESS. Stay silent instead of having the last word.
- Place all cell phones on silent in another room during dinner time… and turn off the TV too!
** This is part 5 in our series on the Foundations of Health. Go back to the beginning to read more!