unplug it every once in a while

conversation, life, social media, talk to strangers, The U, unplug

“Thank you,” he said in a too-loud voice, taking the pen I had recovered for him.

I just nodded back with a smile but inside I was laughing. This too-loud talking is a common occurrence. The culprit? Earphones.

Earphones are a typical sight on campus. Even now there are 7 people in my line of vision wearing earphones. Not counting myself.

I have heard discussion in recent years voicing concern about the younger generation not having interpersonal skills. Claiming they don't know how to talk to each other face to face. With the uprising of social media, who needs a face-to-face, or voice-to-voice, conversation anymore? When we can resort to text message to breakup, get information, or confirm a social activity, why on earth would I actually talk to someone?

For someone like me, who's anti-small talk and slightly afraid of talking to strangers, the phenomenon of texting and social media is wonderful. I get to hide behind my phone, iPad and computer and not actually verbalize anything. So what happens when my parents don't text? How am I supposed to keep them informed of my life when I can't text? Other than by keeping a blog of course. Well, I call them.

With the excellent services available to listen to music 24/7, I find that I'm plugged in pretty much constantly. I'm listening to music or sports radio. I'm reading or typing away on my iPad. I'm playing Words With Friends or texting with a friend. And it's all available to me in the library, on the bus, in my office and at home. It's constant.

I really can go a whole 24 hours without having a verbal conversation with anyone but my roommate. I tried it. But when I do it, I miss the interaction. Humans are social creatures, even me, and when I go too long without having a conversation… here's fair warning to the next person I run into because I'm gonna talk your ear off.

So a challenge. To myself more than to anyone else. Put away the earphones. I want to be more aware of the person sitting next to me on the bus or at the study table. When I'm more open and aware of people, they are more open and aware of me, and sometimes we have a nice conversation.

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