John's Blog

The Blog of John Gibson, PhD


Connection, Social Media, and Solitude

bear on phone

(“Can I call you back? I’m right in the middle of a photo shoot.”)

Not long ago I saw two young women walking down the street, side-by-side, left hands carrying shopping bags, right hands holding cell phones up to their ears. As near as I could tell, they were together but perfectly content to talk with someone else.

Last week I heard an interview by one of the people who helped create the internet. He admitted they had no idea that the internet would become such a powerful tool for social media. He thought it was mostly going to help people get more work done.

On that same afternoon I was driving on the highway, passing a young man who was going about five miles per hour below the speed limit, but drifting in and out of lanes. When I eased by him, his eyes were riveted to something in his hand. When he looked up at me, sheepishly I might add, after almost bumping into the side my car, I saw his cell phone. Texting.

Cell phones, the internet, websites, blogs, Facebook.

Human beings have a powerful need for connection. Apparently we can’t get enough. If someone can invent a technology that provides yet another way for us to stay connected, we’ll jump on it. Tweeter, anyone? Cell phone calls are so yesterday. Texting, baby, that’s where it’s at.

And yet... what about the lost art of solitude? What about learning how to be by one’s self, content with one’s own company?

What would your life be like if, one day a week, you imposed a media blackout? No internet, no cell, no blogs read or written, not even television. What if it was just you and your spouse or partner, or family? What if it was just you?

Related post: What I know for sure

(photo by Ucumari)