Watching my son, who is an extremely social child, interact with other people has made me realize just how little attention the general population pays to their surroundings. What do I mean by that? It’s completely normal for us to walk into a coffee shop and see everyone but the employees staring down at an electronic device. My son waves, and he says hi. He smiles wide. His whole world lights up when someone makes eye contact. We’ll have our coffee and be gone before anyone makes eye contact with him a single time. If they do, they’ll immediately look away back to their phone, laptop, tablet, what have you.
To me, the human experience is our ability to interact and communicate with other human beings in a way that most other creatures are unable. My son is a good example of the instinctual need some people, I admit not all, have to reach out and communicate with their community. Out of the twenty or more people in that coffee shop, I cannot possibly believe there wasn’t someone with a similar need at one of those tables. However, instead of looking up and interacting with those around them, they were fulfilling that need on the internet. My son doesn’t have the internet to fill that need for him, so he stares and meekly attempts to wave at all the people in the shop. I’m always impressed that he keeps trying until he’s attempted to interact with every last person. He’s much more persistent than I am.
The internet is a wonderful place to connect with others. I do wonder though, has it ruined some parts of the human experience? Would all of these dating sites be necessary if we interacted with the people around us? I have no expectation that everyone wants to talk to my kid. He doesn’t exactly hold an engaging conversation yet. There are, however, ten or more other people in that shop also looking at their electronic devices. Surely that’s at least one missed opportunity to connect with someone you would enjoy talking with.