Friday, January 8, 2010

Are you A walking Zombie?

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How Engaged Are You?

Another day another story recounting how some poor IPod worshipper has walked into a pane of glass and lacerated themselves to within an inch of their life.

Are we becoming a society of zombies stumbling along like ghosts only incidentally tuned into the physical environment when our most urgent of needs need satisfying?
Earplugs embedded, Mobile at the ready with expectant text fingers twitching in anticipation, and video on standby for instant capture and upload to YouTube, should a major catastrophe occur, and our digitally engaged pale faced sleep walker is ready to embrace the physical world.

Excuse the facetious ramble. Have you ever pondered how engaged you are in your social sphere? Engagement is a step beyond simple connection. There maybe literally only 1 degree of separation between you and a million people. I believe I’m underestimating this figure greatly.

Let’s imagine you have a combined network of 1000 people. This is includes family, work colleagues, social acquaintances, and social media connections. We all know people who have 1000 Facebook or Twitter followers alone! Multiply that by 1000 and there you have it, a million plus people that are in your sphere of connectivity.
So what you may ask. If you know only one person but they know President Obama then you’re only a connection away from millions. Of far more significance, is the issue of how engaged you actually are.

The degree, to which you are engaged, signifies the amount of influence you hold.
If you are a passionate Yankees or Man Utd fan, then the engagement is one way. They are the players you are the punter. They earn the wealth and accolades, to which you contribute.

Quality engagement is one of communication and influence. Within your ‘tribe’ are you a talker or a listener? Are you an initiator or a follower? In other words do you have an audible voice within your sphere?

So many questions. Here’s an answer.

We have a choice to lead follow or get out of the way in our engagements. Disengagement is the comfortable default for many. I have neighbours that overtly avoid eye contact, presumably for fear of engaging.

Teenagers accompany parents on various excursions whilst hooked up to various digital devices that facilitate this same disengagement.
The message of this scribble is that social skills and courtesies are being eroded to the detriment of all. When it becomes more comfortable to turn inward for gratification it weakens the glue that binds and defines society.
Ultimately we become a herd of followers, connected yet disengaged and hence disenfranchised.

I say reclaim your voice. Demand attention when you speak. Prompt eye contact with the store assistant. When you ask politely how their day is going and they ignore you, ask again. Sometimes engagement needs to be trained. My neighbours have to work hard to avoid engagement with me, as I will continue to say Hello until they get used to this ‘peculiar’ cultural nicety.

Hopefully the incidences of sober outwardly intelligent people blindly walking out in front of traffic or into windowpanes can be arrested!

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Hope your day is unfolding well-Cheers Kiaran


世界 said...

happy new year!!..................................................

moorie said...

Really enjoy your writing - I am concerned that face-to-face communication is becoming a rare skill. Too easy to hide behind a text when there are difficult things to say