Do you know your neighbors? Do your children hangout with the neighborhood kids, grandparents, aunties/uncles, cousins and other family members as we did “back in the day”? What about saying a simple hello as you cross paths with a stranger?
If you think about it…
“Back in the day” wasn’t so long ago.
Reflecting 20 years back, I remember it was the norm to play outside with friends and neighbors, spend ample time with family, converse more often in-person and meet someone new with effortless dialogue. Starting as simple as…
“What’s your name?” or “Where are you from?”
These are the times I cherish most. Reminiscing on those days, I can’t help but to appreciate the feeling of togetherness.
Now 25 years later, I can’t say the same.
It’s hard not to notice that people sit side-by-side and are so pre-occupied with their phones, or other tech devices, that they don’t seem to notice one another.
On April 2, 2016, I attended the Creative Innovation Conference at Light City Baltimore. One thing that really struck me was Debbie Millman’s presentation on the damaging effects of “modern society” on humanity. Millman broke down the high percentage of suicide and depression due to social media, and made it clear that technology has only caused us to become more detached.
Although I constantly hear about the need for positive change and socialization, I am still seeing signs of excessive stress.
Work hours continue to increase, just as our children’s homework load. Dating sites have now become the most effective method for potential couples to meet because there’s not enough time to actually hang out. We’re spending an excessive amount of energy on hand held devices and not enough in-person encounters. Consequently, suicide rates have increased dramatically, particularly among our youth. At my son’s high school alone there has been 3 suicides in just 3 months.
There’s no way this should be considered the norm.
We are constantly going, like machines, thinking that faster and more is somehow better. And most importantly we are NOT communicating effectively. We’ve forgotten basic means of living with one another and in turn we have become an isolated society.
Don’t get me wrong… online platforms are convenient, but it should never completely replace the need for human connection through face-to-face interaction and conversations.
What will it take for us to once again become a community and decrease our stress levels?
Though I am not big on New Year’s resolutions, I thought it’s the perfect time to share thoughts on ways reconnect. Here are a few simple ideas:
Have a no tech rule at dinner time – whether you’re single, married or a parent, taking the time to eat without watching a screen not only opens up time for conversation but also gives you some time to think.
Even better spend one day a week without any technology – try not using technology at home for a week. You’ll be surprised how revived you feel.
Rekindle a relationship – sometimes we loose touch with loved ones because of a disagreement or misunderstanding. Most times it’s not as serious as we think. Try reaching out and take the time to meet up and chat about it. Hashing out out a differences can go a long way for much needed healing.
Take a lunch break – taking a break is vital. You can even schedule a lunch date with a co-worker or friend you haven’t seen in a while. If you’re a parent, and your child’s school is close by, have lunch with your little one.
Introduce yourself to your neighbors – don’t know your neighbors? An easy introduction is to go door-to-door and introduce yourself. You can say mention that you’re doing this in order to get to know your neighbors and vice-versa and to look out for one another.
Join or launch your neighborhood committee – taking part in your neighborhood committee or launching one if there isn’t one in your neighborhood is a great way to get to know your neighbors. As a community you’ll also have the opportunity to address the issues in your neighborhood.
Throw a block party – everyone loves a party! There’s no better way to meet many of your neighbors than at a block party.
Organize a family reunion – the younger generation will have the opportunity to connect with their family members. They may become accustomed to the gathering and continue the tradition. Everyone can contribute with food and drink. You can reserve a picnic area at your local park for free.
Volunteer at your local school – did you know you don’t have to be a parent to volunteer in a PTA? Our schools can definitely use your help. If you are a parent, you can organize a parent get together from time to time. This may even lessen bullying. If my daughter knows that I speak with her classmate’s mom, she may think twice before doing something naughty.
Happy New Year to you! Let’s re-connect.