Selfies, and Frozen Yogurt…

I like going on dates to the movies, or watching them at home with company. I like watching a movie, and wondering what the person next to me is feeling, or thinking. I also like looking at reactions, and listening to laughter, or lack thereof. There’s something about being in the presence of another human being I know is sharing the same life experience as me that I find fascinating. We sit there, witnessing an event for the first time in a shared space, and it feels like we’re co-existing, walking in tandem, connecting in this one random, but real moment on our paths. And then each of us is left with a memory distinctly unique, but not exactly personal, or even private. And as another person is added to the circle, my curiosity increases, and I want nothing more than to talk, and eat, and weep, and rejoice with the party involved. Maybe that’s what makes me an extrovert, or maybe it just makes me human. Either way, it makes me feel more alive knowing that I am not alive alone.

And it’s the times when I’m sitting in front of my laptop in some random cafe nearby watching Netflix alone, or doing something a bit more productive (but let’s be honest, I’m probably watching Netflix), observing dozens of other people, that I wonder why it seems that so many of us choose to be alone. Or even if we choose it at all. Don’t get me wrong. I think solitary time is useful. I learn a lot about myself when I spend some time alone, and we should be able to in order to learn about our likes, dislikes, and habits away from the presence of others. But why would we prefer to live this way; why would we choose to live as if we’re the only ones left on the planet?

I don’t want to get into statistics, and studies that show how much time the average American spends on social media, rummaging through profiles, and updating posts, but seriously, it accounts for more than one in every four minutes spent online everyday, or 16 minutes of every hour of our daily living! And that time that I spend looking down, reading about people I could be sharing with actual, true-to-life, air-breathing, friends. And while I’m the first to admit how much social media has helped my professional, and social endeavors, how real is that on-screen chemistry? I want to believe so badly that social media does more good than bad, especially because it can be the cure for dormant relationships, and long-lost connections, but it seems that we too easily exploit it, and thus perpetuate an individualistic culture, one that prides itself on the pursuit of selfies: self-centeredness, self-gratification, and self-reliance. And I see it everywhere, even in the theater.

There’s an initial momentary interaction that exists with a new cast, and even when several actors, or designers already know each other. It appears as an attempt at break room small talk, and backstage jokes, but then it ends. It continues for a brief moment after the project is over in the form of a “friend request”, and maybe a comment of gratitude for that new connection, but what happens after that? I can share plenty of times when I’ve reached out to invite someone for coffee, or lunch, only to be turned down due to their busy schedule, or something related. I try not to take these occurrences personal but then I’m left asking myself how any connection can begin if someone is more interested in displaying their life in images, then actually sharing it? What meaningful relationships can we form when we’d rather post about our day than talk about it? Ultimately, I’m not saying that the social media life is wrong. But what do we do about the lost human connection? My answer is: IDK. But I can tell you that no one should be afraid of reaching out to find a human connection. We weren’t made to walk a solitary life. And I get that sometimes it may feel like loneliness is forced upon us, so all we feel we have is a network connection, and that might seem sufficient, and easy, but is it really fulfilling? Chances are if you feel like no one cares to reach out to you, someone else in your friendship circle does as well. And there’s no greater relief to know that you’re not alone. And when this happens, you should get up from your chair, and participate in life with that person. The conversation might be awkward at first since you can’t use “emojis” and all, but you’ll get the hang of it!

And it’s a struggle for me too, but I can’t stop trying. And so, I’m thankful that I believe in the power of a real-life smile, and a warm hug. I appreciate the sound of laughter, and a firm handshake. And I’m grateful for the people I can share life with, who know that they can always call me up, and invite me for a lunch date, or some frozen yogurt because we desire human connection over a technological one. I’m thankful that when I need a friend to share life with, I’ve got a community of people just waiting to be invited. And while I’m still thankful for the chat room hangouts, I’m thankful for the cafe hangouts too. Life is too short, and precious to spend it all in front of a screen. We have to look up, and participate every now, and again. Why not spend just a small portion of it with someone? I promise, you can still take photos, post them, and laugh about them later.


Yesenia with a ‘J’ sound