Is Personal Interaction A Vanishing Practice?

As our technology has gotten more advanced, in many ways we are using it to replace human interaction. What is it costing us?

Under the right circumstances, you could go for days, or possibly even weeks, without being in the same room with someone else. After all, you can order your groceries online and have them delivered to you. Many jobs can be done remotely. Just about anything you need can be purchased through the internet.

Even if you decide to leave your house, interaction can be kept to a minimum. You can avoid any awkward chit chat with grocery store employees by opting for the self-checkout line. Wearing headphones or ear buds ensures people will not talk to you.

We’ve even, as a society, decided that a voice-to-voice phone call is too much. Civilized people text instead.

Even sex is being configured to take place alone. Porn is available to anyone at any time, and now we even have remarkably realistic sex dolls or robots.

The reason for our self-imposed isolation is fairly obvious: interacting is hard! And it can be awkward at times. Everyone has their own preferences. Some people like to talk about anything and everything; others are quiet. One person might be a hugger, while another doesn’t even like to shake hands. Maybe you don’t know what to say most of the time.

As more and more our lives are spent minimizing the time spent with others, are we getting out of the practice of making small talk? Is it harder to bond with someone now, compared to a decade ago? Is personal interaction a vanishing practice? How can we engage more with others?

Related questions: What are our responsibilities to others? How can we encourage meaningful conversation? Do you feel lonely? What role does community play in your life?

How Do You Deal With Someone With Whom You Don’t Get Along?

It has happened to all of us: you are stuck with someone with whom you don’t get along. Maybe seated across the table at a Thanksgiving dinner. Or someone dating your best friend. Or a member of a work team that your boss assigned. What can you do?

While it seems inevitable that there will be people with whom you don’t get along, it is also true that often you have no choice in the matter. For example, you can’t get someone fired from a job just because you have a personality clash.

Moreover, you shouldn’t. It is a good exercise in self control to work, or to be social, with someone different than you. Even if it is someone who gets under your skin.

Of course, that is easier said than done. While we have advanced brains and are justifiably proud of our reasoning and logic, we are still animals. If we encounter an irritant, our instinct is to brush it away. If something, or someone, is a problem, we might try to fix the problem, or distance ourselves from it.

But that is not always an option. In many cases, no one needs to be “fixed”. They are thoughtful, productive, useful people, who just aren’t a good fit for you.

So what can you do? When you inevitably encounter someone like this, what will happen? How can you make your interactions, if not enjoyable, at least tolerable? You can’t control how someone else behaves, but you can control how you react to it. What will your reaction be?

How do you deal with someone with whom you don’t get along?

Related questions: How can we become better listeners? What gives a person value? What is uncomfortable but rewarding? How can we encourage meaningful conversation?

Literally Or Figuratively?

Are you more literal in your life, or more figurative? Obviously we all use both all the time, but does one mean more to you?

Share why if you wish.

Literally Or Figuratively?

How Are You Misunderstood?

One of the most difficult things about being human is how isolated we are. No one truly knows us, and every day we are misunderstood — sometimes in big ways, sometimes small.

Unfortunately, it is all too easy for misunderstandings to arise. At work, at home, at school, our image of ourselves is different from what others see.

You mean one thing, but say something else, even if what you say is close to what you meant. Your actions are misinterpreted. Your motivations are misassigned.

No one knows what goes on in your head but you. No amount of exposition, no amount of explanation is sufficient for complete understanding.

Despite our best efforts, our inner monologue is something that is unknown to all but ourselves. Even the people that know us best — our parents, our spouse, our loved ones — often misunderstand us.

In what ways are you misunderstood by those around you? How do you act, what do you say, which of your written words are misinterpreted? What traits do you have that go unheralded or unappreciated? And what do you do to address this?

Related questions: How do you think others see you? How are you underappreciated? Do you feel lonely? How do you talk about yourself?

How Do You Describe What You Do?

Whether it is your career, your hobbies, or your private life, how you describe yourself can alter how the world sees you. What is your description?

Describing what you do, while important, can be very difficult. While it is true that what you choose to spend your time and focus on helps define you as a human being, an accurate description isn’t easy.

In fact, the manner and vocabulary you use to talk about what you do has many risks. You might bore someone else if you choose to talk about it in a clinical way. It is possible you could alienate someone who doesn’t share a common frame of reference. You might even offend someone.

And yet, sharing who you are and what you do with others is the essence of being in a community. If you have an interest in and a passion for what you do, you can convey that to someone else. And in turn, they may convey the same thing to you, if you are lucky.

How do you describe what you do? Have you given advance thought to what you might say to someone else? And do you listen when others describe what they do?

Related questions: Would you be friends with yourself? How would you describe yourself in ten words or less? How do you judge yourself? What makes a community?