The audio book I’m listening to right now is Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead, by Brene Brown. In it she says something that really struck me to the core of my being and it was incredibly sad because I had seen been around this kind of behavior and have seen it happen to a degree, but not to the degree Brown talks about.
In her book, she highlights an article she wrote for the Houston Chronicle on how she observed two women getting their nails done where she’s gone for her manicures over the last 10 years. She knows the two nail technicians who regularly give her service: she talks to them and they to her; they know a bit about each other.
Without ever getting off their mobile phones the two customers managed to communicate to the manicurists the nail polish they wanted and the length and shape they wanted.
When Brown asked her nail technician about it, she told her that customers don’t even look at them as people.
She goes on to tell several more gut wrenching stories that make me feel so sad for service workers. She says that we as a society wonder why customer service has gone down the toilet, but we should also wonder why customer behavior has gone down the toilet as well. I agree with her.
And it doesn’t stop with the cell phones. It is strange when I open my eyes and simply look at people around me. They are either plugged into some device with their earbuds (Hey, me included. I freely admit that I like my podcasts and music) or looking down into their smart phones.
One friend once said that she got tired of looking at the tops of people’s bent heads instead of their faces.
What’s with this weird desire or compulsion to become completely disconnected with other human beings? Do we even know how to interact with others anymore?
Here’s a personal story… at my son’s school, I try and befriend other parents, or at the very least, make some small talk since we all have a similar motivation for creating community for our children.
Not being an outgoing extrovert, I’m more the type of person that would prefer to have initial eye contact with somebody before walking up and introducing myself. I keep waiting for the initial contact. And it has been almost an entire year! So freaking weird that other parents who stand right next to me not only ever look at me, but treat me as if I don’t exist.
Maybe it is because I am still invisible? I hope that the revelation I had on that earlier helps me become more visible. Or maybe these are just people with whom I don’t really want to have any kind of relationship with. It is very important, after all, to choose your friends very carefully.