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.

mine must be broken

being single, conversation, life, meeting people

Product-hero-iphone4

I spent most of Saturday getting sunburned while poolside.  Takes me back to when every summer day was spent poolside.  Ah, to be 16 again…

Anyway, it was fairly crowded. I was enjoying myself in the sun, texting, writing, laughing, having a grand time knowing I had nowhere else to be for the rest of the day and loving every minute of it. 

The fellow sunning next to me spoke up:

“What kind of phone is that?”

“An iPhone.”

“Well mine must be broken.  It doesn't make me laugh nearly as much as yours does.”

Clever

I knew right from the start that I was not interested in seeing this guy outside of the pool gates, but he started the conversation in a witty way so I continued to talk to him and we talked for an hour or so.

Besides, it's not like the minute I make a change in my life I meet the person that's gonna sweep me off my feet and we ride into the sunset.  If that was the case I wouldn't have spent the last almost-3 years being mostly single.  I've realized that if I'm not willing to talk to people, how can I expect them to talk to me?

So over the past week I've made an effort to be more open.  

I went to a sit down lunch by myself for the first time.  Loved it.  

I went to happy hour by myself. Enjoyed a conversation with a nice man. 

I made eye contact with the guy across the restaurant. He has my number.  And he called.

I talked to the girl on trax who was studying Japanese.

I've talked to a handful of new people this week and while none of them are necessarily my new best friend, my frog prince, or the business person who will recognize my incredible talents and give me the job of my dreams, the conversations were all enjoyable.  Talking to strangers has been fun and not scary.  Who knew?

And, given that the experiences were all painless (except for the sunburn that now runs from my neck to my ankles) I'll continue to put myself in a position to talk to people. Because while I'm not good at small chit chat and getting to know people, I've learned it's a skill that can be acquired.  And it's already getting easier.