When we had one TV channel, we all sat and watched the only programme, whether it was good or bad. When the only way to know what the hottest music was, meant watching one show once a week and then listening to the top 40 on a Sunday evening, which always clashed with Sunday dinner, so you recorded it and listened to it all week. OK, so we did forward the odd painful track like the Osmonds and there was only so much Barry Manilow any human could endure before poking your eyes out to have a lesser pain.
On average we watch 3-4 hours a day of YouTube, Netflix, TV etc. That’s a quarter of our waking hours and then we moan we do not have enough time. TV used to be limited and often crap so we did other things like talking, going out for a bike ride, painting, playing music, making things and importantly, daydreaming.
But it brought people, families, friends, even strangers, together for shared experiences, good or bad, you could not fast forward and skip the ads, you had to watch them, the shit ones too, but now we can reminisce about the shit ones and laugh.
Life was connected because it was simple. Now we have more complexity, we are strangely more connected but in fact totally disconnected, cellular, we are in our silos, we are depressed, lonely, lost, overwhelmed and searching for worthiness on Facebook, Instagram, snap chat, or shit chat or any other life/time-sucking platform.
Ironic to write that as I post this blog on Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin. You can always subscribe via the ancient art form of email to never miss another thrilling post.
We need to go back to simple, we need to go back to connecting with real people, like our families, our neighbours, our real friends, that is people who we actually physically meet and talk to. Nothing in the digital world can replace that. Even the ‘digital natives’ deep down know that.
We are not meant to be alone, with the only interactions being digital, we are not meant to watch a film on our own on Netflix while the other members of our family sit in different rooms of the house watching YouTube, playing PS4 or watching iPlayer. We are meant to sit and talk, discuss, listen to music together, watch something together, laugh, chat, disagree, hug, love each other, cry together, whatever it is, real is better than virtual.
The instant gratification culture came from endless choice, it meant we no longer had to stick with something, even as simple as a film, tv show, a game, whatever, we can always click on something else, endlessly.
Sure it’s great that we have choice, but it is also harmful in a far bigger way to be totally disconnected, lonely and overwhelmed.
We all quit our jobs to be self-employed and free, yet most freelancers sit at home rearranging their self-help books and polishing their Mac books sitting at their desks, lonely and depressed, missing the companionship of work colleagues. Yet we tell ourselves we are free.
We are free, free from human interaction which goes completely against all that humans have done for the entire time we have been on this planet.
The internet has created the ultimate choice, the ultimate connection. So why are so many lost and miserable? Well, it is because we are not connecting enough with real humans. We are not connecting with even our own family, let alone the neighbours, and even dare I say it, strangers. We actually spend so little time connecting with ourselves, instead, we surf through endless amounts of click bait, you know the ones that tell us what film star we look like and it always comes up with Angelina Jolie or George Clooney.
This weekend my mate Bernie, that is the 3rd mention in a row, shit I need to have more friends to talk about, maybe I could get off the internet a bit more and go and connect with real humans!!
So back to the weekend with Bernie, our joint families took a trip on the Bluebell railway, this is a tourist steam railway and the carriages were built in the 1800’s, so each compartment was self-contained, so you need to share with a few other strangers. OMG, a Gen Y/Z panic attack would erupt, to sit with people we do not know, are you kidding me? None of us had phones, OMG what?? So we were completely disconnected, I couldn’t even sit and scroll through all my social media apps to avoid eye contact or conversation.
Both journeys up and down the line led to an interesting discussion on whether there were other English words like Polish and polish, which are spelt the same, but sound different, answer on a postcard if you know of others, please. Then on the way back, unbelievably, Bernie and his wife Lorena, who met in and love Poland, got chatting to a Polish guy.
Then we spent the weekend listening to vinyls, doing art, walking in the woods, and connecting to real people, we went for Sunday breakfast at the local cafe, chatted to the owner, listened to one of the customers play Einaudi on the piano and we all left the internet behind.
No one died in the making of that weekend and we all felt like we had returned to a simpler connected world.
The Bluebell railway and real people make for happiness, inclusion, love and connection that is the perfect antidote to being together alone.
Polish or polish not click bait and loneliness. I can happily say that it is two years ago, nearly, I switched off every single notification on over 50 apps on my phone and never looked back. Well, it is still a painful process at times and I still suffer a bit of loneliness and surfing the net to soothe it. But the journey continues to even better.