Take a byte out of life and enjoy the many opportunities to have conversations with the people around you.
Opposable thumbs separate humans from many animals, and so could our talents and personalities if our focal point moved from our Blackberries, Droids and iPhones to the world around us. Eye contact is so much better for a singular’s success than eyestrain, and dexterity with digits is a skill to be shared, not wasted on a keyboard all day.
How often do you see a single person in a public place with a smart phone, laptop or e-reader to keep them company? Eyes focused on the screen and ear buds in their ears, they shut out any chance to hear the voices around them. Do they look like they want to be approached? Hardly. Whether they realize it or not, the message is loud and clear: “Leave me alone.”
It can be especially problematic when you’re single. We singulars need to practice our communication skills and human interaction can nurture, inspire, and affirm our sense of belonging. It all starts with looking up. Who knows what or whom you’ll see if you do.
If you’re shy or uncomfortable about being alone in public places, tell yourself you’ll just take 10 minutes to look at your surroundings, no matter where you are, before you turn to the comforting refuge of your hand held device. Meeting a friend or have a business lunch to attend? Arrive ten minutes early and practice being alone ― device free. It’s a great trick for newly single people who are spoiled with constant companionship.
It would be great if there were a universal button we could push to break down communication barriers. Come to think of it, there is, it’s a one syllable word that can change your life: “hi.” That simple word is all that’s necessary to start a conversation, or to let people know you are open to talking, if they choose.
Think of “hi” as your own acronym for human interaction, and say that one simple word to intriguing strangers. See what happens in the park, the bar, the airport, the sports arena, or when you take your seat or your four square inches in the mosh pit (hey, I don’t judge what concerts you go to) and say “hi” to your neighbor when you arrive. That’s it – just “hi.” That one syllable is enough to let them know you’re a pleasant enough person to talk to, while not being intrusive.
Would it be so terrible to say “hi” to someone on the hiking trail? After all, you’re both in a wilderness situation and may need an immediate snakebite antidote. A person you’ve spoken to may consider you a person worth saving. And if that stranger is also single, they may need someone to talk to them today, too.
A friend once told me she’s a hugger because, “Single people don’t get touched enough.” After talking with someone, even someone she’s just met, she gives them a brief hug good-bye rather than a handshake. The fact that she’s elderly makes it a non-threatening gesture and immediately seems grandmotherly, but her point is that she’s done this since she was widowed many years ago, and she believes human interaction trumps electronic media any day.
For those device addicts who are always plugged in but would like to reconnect on a human level, there’s a website that lists direct phone numbers to many companies that would otherwise send you through a labyrinth of voice mail hell when you call with questions. If you call the numbers listed on gethuman.com, you’ll speak to real human beings for customer service. Genius! Why didn’t someone think of this decades ago?
I think single people should take advantage of talking to someone (other than themselves) whenever possible, so gethuman.com can be a timesaver and a good communication tool. Do not, however, think a chat about your broken toaster with a nice person in a call center in Ohio is a substitute for getting out of the house and looking up.
Copyright © J.C. Russell / 2011 Singular Communications, LLC.