Why do we prefer to post messages, rather than share our personal news with the ones dear to us? Why do we feel content when we have small groups of people in our chat apps and can share a message instantly with 4-5 people instead of actually telling each significant person in our lives what we want them to know? Why does it seem to help us gain more time? Why would it be so difficult to tell each friend a piece of news? (Meetings are more swiftly organised thus, sharing a new phone number in one tap is equally profitable; let’s not belittle the advantages.)
In the past, people had less friends because life only allowed for a certain number of hours for meetings, fun and heart-warming talks. It was great sharing your news because you’d tell each person the events in a different manner and you’d try to anticipate their unique reactions. It was all a well-tightened social act, wherein behaviours and typical remarks, the tone of discourse and perspective of each friend on the situation would make everything more special. Write a letter and expand on the idea, make a phone call overseas, they were all events in themselves. Activities just as charming (or depressing) as the information itself.
In the present, we seem to have a lot more friends and a lot more to talk about.
In my opinion, we have it all wrong. There is a bifold explanation for our current take on things.
- Most of them are acquaintances, not genuine real-life, flesh-here-and-now friends. Our education programmes and professional lives lead to us being connected to a numerous pool of people, generally called friends. Even social networks have recently started to employ distinct categories (friends / close friends / acquanintances / family) for relationship updating, as, somewhere along the way, the term friend turned into.. person I sort of know or someone I’ve heard of … We call friends people whom we’ve never met and, indeed, some virtual relationships bring minds alike closer than the on-break chat with faces we see on a daily basis. Sometimes, pointing towards the real friend or setting forth a reason for how come the most improbable one has become the best friends tends to be tricky and scatter deep confusion. It becomes difficult to keep up with telling everyone everything and it seems less of an effort to make everything public and then just wait and pick the reactions when they arise. An instant message to more friends means you don’t have to make 7 calls to say the same thing. A post means everyone you know has found out in a second that you have a new member in your family. We call that effectiveness. In truth, it is just useless information for many people who have no particular or concrete interest in the manifold aspects of your personal life. We take away selection. We take away the importance of one particular person over the other 100 individuals met throughtout our lives. We take away the special nature of that one event because it is so publicly trumpeted. We take away the authentic reactions of the people who matter: replies wear certain conventionl uniforms, animated little pictures that show you how happy everyone is about your brand new success story or how enraged they all are when an unfair predicament has spoilt your innate good mood. In truth … plain pride and laziness. Pride, that top sin among sins alongside the laziness to take the few minutes necessary for making a personal announcement when called for.
- Intimacy has been stripped of many of its veils. Open-mindedness and acceptance have taught us we should be more tolerant towards everything. Towards everyone. Towards everyone doing anything they choose to do. It is not shameful to be seen in underwear. Neither is it shameful to make whatever remarks you deem fit in a situation, or let people know what you think exactly when you think it. Less societal restrictions as to what is ok-ish. Let everyone take their pick: unfamiliar people want to see / read / watch?, so be it; enjoy – whoever is offended / unaffected? fine, let me hear it, I’ll just ignore what doesn’t suit my views. Because we have been incouraged to talk more, express more (of our feelings, fears, experience), we actually feel the need to do it. Somewhere. Somehow. Wherever possible. Whenever it seems fit. Because everyone seems to be talking more about their personal lives, most consider it perfectly alright to just step in and poke at whatever subject their brief curiosity strikes. Because it seems that everyone is more enclined to talk and share, we have come to believe we are entitled to ask no matter what. If telling is the norm, asking becomes the semblant requisite effect. People who still regard their personal lives as utterly personal are frowned at for being weird, unadapted, old-fashioned. Maybe it all breaks down to being truly tolerant and accepting and agreeing that we all customise definitions.
Maybe it is enough to keep quiet every now and then, or tone down some of the flamboyance. Perhaps a more strict selection would not totally jeopardise the time alotted for other things and it would suffice to reconquer the concept of friend. Perhaps less pride over everything we manage to do would be quite welcome, without putting a permanent ban on bragging.
Perhaps grinding through the feedback one gives in a conversation before asking the next question would be enough to prevent embarrassement or improperness. When met with reluctance, stop jabbing, simply to avoid rude blunders. When encouraged, take 30 more seconds to decide how many details you actually wish your new work buddy to know or let know, and if there is any actual reason for you to learn all about each other in less than 2 sittings.
For all we know, shades, whispers and mystery have always been alluring. Why lose it all to the ashes of the fully-exposed bits of self?