For those younger readers, the image below is the remnants of a pay phone. Prior to the widespread use of cellphones, these things were all over the place. You could pay a certain amount to make a call. Most of the phone part of this one is gone. My guess would be that it is hanging in someone’s apartment as a decoration. Regardless of what happened to it, there is no chance that any calls are being made from or coming to this unit. Even if the wires still exist inside, the connection just isn’t going to be made.
Despite all of our different formats for connection, people seem to be more disconnected than ever. It is not a question of means for communication. We have more than we know what to do with: text, instant message, Facebook post, Tweet, etc. The issue is not the means. It is the quality and interpretation of the signals that are coming through. Wearing masks seems to have made this even worse. People are generally not sending the signals that they want to put out into the world. It is usually a watered down version of their truest feelings. It has become just a bit too dangerous to put your authentic self out there. It can be misinterpreted. You could be labeled a thousand different things. Or worst of all, you could be heard clearly and no one responds. That might be the scariest of all. Putting yourself completely out there and no one cares enough to hear you.
We’re losing something in these overly cautious half messages. That piece of ourselves that makes us truly human. Other animals travel in packs but the human animal can relate on a level that they cannot. Pack animals travel together for the protection of the individual and the whole. Our society has grown to a point where we no longer need the protection but we still need the connection. We still need the pack, not because of physical danger but emotional connection. The pack could be as few as two people. The blanket of emotional safety that it creates is not so much a want but a need. We need to feel safe emotionally in this crazy world. Our ability to say anything to anyone anywhere has not freed us. It has stifled us because that phone call used to be with one person. Now all that we say and do can be turned from a gift into a weapon regardless of our intent. Unfortunately, the voices of the masses are not truly hateful voices. They are insecure voices. That insecurity is based in a fear that they also won’t be loved, appreciated, praised or even just heard. So it’s easier to send out a half truth that keeps us protected than the whole truth that leaves us exposed. The trivial, trite and mundane becomes the message on everyone’s masked lips. Those masks are not due to COVID. They’re invisible protection from putting one’s self “too far” out there. Because if the real me shows up and no one answer my call, then what does that say about me.
The truth is that it probably says nothing more than most people are disconnected like that phone above. They have all of the wiring to make a true connection but choose to stay separate and protected. Don’t become a rusted out shell of your former self. People were meant for more than the snarky and filtered. We were meant to be raw and imperfect. This is not a call for you to post your “emotionally naked” self online. More than anything, it’s an invitation to be real with one person at a time. Like a pay phone, it’s small investments that over time with make a big difference in the value that you are returned.
Hello! Is there anybody out there?