I was sitting here today thinking it has been so long since I last wrote anything the world must have forgotten I exist. (that is of course assuming anyone knew or cared I existed in the first place which is doubtful) Well I have been concentrating on things offline for a while, and it has brought me to a few sad truths. The first of those sad truths being that we have lost our sense of community, or so it would seem.
Do you remember the time when you walked down the street and saw children out playing? I do, but just the other day I realized most of the children have gone and the playgrounds are empty. These days when we walk by a park or a playground, there is a noticeable absence of children playing outdoors. Swing sets and monkey bars sit forlornly still, silent testaments to the fact that the children no longer play there.
Where have all the children gone? Sadly most are indoors glued to computer screens, or television screens, because no one plays in the real world anymore. Why bother going outside when you can live life vicariously through the newest game hero without leaving the comforts of home? Why bother meeting your friends at the mall when you can just hangout online together? As a matter of fact, who needs the traditional kind of friendship when you can find all kinds of people online to build virtual friendships with?
Yes folks this is what the world has become! A planet full of people who socialize with everyone virtually and barely ever leave the comfort of their own homes. Do you remember when people used to get together in person and go places together? A time when cell phones did not exist and if you wanted to speak with someone you had to pick up the phone or physically go and see them? A time when friends would get together at a restaurant or bar or someone’s home and socialize? A time when people did favors for each other and there was a sense of community and friendship? Many of you can not remember that era because you were born into the internet information age, but it’s true, people used to actually physically get together with friends to have fun, and their heads weren’t always buried in the smartphone screens either. We used to talk to each other using actual words and (gasp) full sentences, and we didn’t punctuate everything with smiley face emoticons. We didn’t even know what an emoticon was!
Don’t get me wrong I am not anti progress. I don’t hate computers, I just think we have allowed them to take over our lives. I like Facebook as much as the next person because it opens me up to people from all over the world, people I may otherwise never have met, but I don’t live my life solely online. I have friends in the real world, and we do real world things together, but even those activities have been marred by the fact that people can’t seem to put their smartphones down for five seconds and interact with the people they are with.
Every little thing is turned into a Facebook post. “I had chili for lunch!” says the text under a posted picture of a bowl of chili. Thankfully no one seems to feel their bathroom habits are fodder for Facebook posts or you could wind up being far more intimate with your Facebook friends than you would like.
Now while there are arguments that the internet has made communication easier, and instantaneous, one could also argue that the advent of the internet has brought on the decline of personal one on one face to face socialization. People communicate online, but very seldom see each other in person, and when they do get together to socialize they still can’t pull their heads out of their phone screens for long enough to have a meaningful conversation.
This of course has also eroded that sense of neighborhood community we all used to have. You know what I mean, that sense that your neighbors were your friends and could be counted on to help each other out in a pinch? These days neighbors don’t care if they know each other, and in some cases have never actually spoken to one another despite the fact that they live in close proximity. These days you don’t see neighborhood Mom’s rushing to welcome newcomers with plates of homemade cookies. People move in and out of neighborhoods without anyone ever knowing who they are or where they came from.
Used to be that when a tornado came through or a storm caused damage to Farmer Joe’s barn, Farmer Joe’s neighbors would gather and help him rebuild that barn. The community would work together to see that life was good for all. Now we just read the headline “Farmer loses barn and livestock in freak storm” and tweet or post about how sorry we are for Farmer Joe and how we hope that he manages to rebuild, but do we lift a finger to help Farmer Joe rebuild? No we do not! It isn’t our problem to help Farmer Joe rebuild, instead we will write a five page blog about how his life has been devastated, start a chip-in fund no one cares about and by Thursday we will be on to another topic. Farmer Joe’s barn will not get rebuilt by the community and after a while everyone will have forgotten about him.
Every once in a while we will see some people still trying to do it right and preserve that sense of community we have lost, and we will think just for a second that there is hope for the future. It happened to me this week when I read the post of a friend:
This friend is a retired person on a fixed income, when the damages happened she could not afford to replace the roof, but some amazing people got together and fixed it for her simply because she was a friend and she needed help! Amazing right? No not so amazing if it were twenty or so years ago because back then that was the way the world worked. People did for each other, and the community around them thrived because of it.
We need to get back to that sense of community people! So the next time you walk down the street look around you, does your elderly neighbor need help carrying those groceries into the house? Help them. Does the single Mother of five kids next door need help shoveling her driveway? Lend a hand. If everyone does at least one small kindness for a neighbor once a week we can bring back our lost sense of community a truly create a better world!
That’s all I have to say for today, and now I am off to the kitchen to bake a few pumpkin loaves, and I think I may just wrap one up and take it next door to our elderly neighbors because I am funny like that!
Have a great week everybody! And remember be on the lookout for opportunities to perform a small kindness for someone, life is short!