It’s an understatement to say that much has changed in one generation. There are memes going around on social media showing how my generation played differently – outside, without much supervision, drinking from hoses, romping around till the park lights came on – the sign we needed to go home for dinner. We were safe because we were in numbers, with the other neighborhood kids. Many of us went to Sunday school, or Brownies, or Girl Guides, Boy Scouts, Church, played Little League Baseball, and the list goes on. It’s in those places we did the big job of learning how to meet, engage, and get connected with each other.
As we got older, we met people in school, at work, in bars, in bowling leagues – there seemed to be no end to adult-like activities where we met in real-time, in real space. Dating when we were young was hard enough. We had to steel up the courage to call someone or approach him or her out right, make eye contact, or oh my God talk! Other things at work helping us make a connection that you didn’t realize were going on, were things like pheromones. Does s/he smell good? (Don’t kid yourself it’s the primitive brain that makes things click!). Did s/he return your gaze? Smile at you? Did you get each other? Did you click? Did you like the smell of her hair? Did she seem friendly, approachable? My parents always taught me to check if he had nice teeth, polished shoes and if his hands were clean!!! What about you? How did you suss out potential dating material when you were younger?
Can you imagine having gone on a date with just a polaroid shot of a person? Or a polaroid shot of 200 different people? That was all the info that you had to go on and maybe some biographical info? Me neither. And sad as it is that’s all a lot of folk now a days have access to in order to choose someone to meet. That’s HOW they meet!
Clients of all ages come in to my office, plagued with loneliness, and are completely baffled at how to go about meeting someone… someone not through an app. The implication on an app like Tinder is that when we “connect” it will automatically lead to sex. But how as a species are we doing this? You don’t smell a persons’ pheromones through an app, you can’t read body language, sensing if they are compatible, dangerous, suitable. We are losing the gut instinct that tells us when something might be good or bad for us.
I did some research and noticed there are a lot of young people asking, “How do I meet people? How do I make friends?” This must be the great tragedy of our time. We think we are more connected because of social media, but it would seem we have lost the spaces and places and activities where this used to happen.
When you have lived long enough, you begin to realize that human behavior goes through cycles. I can only hope that we cycle out of this dependence on technology to meet our social needs and move back to a time and speed and place where meeting someone, engaging in conversation, making real connections, becomes the norm again. Our species depends on it!