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Personal Contact

November 27, 2016

When have you conversed with a real person lately?  Don’t count people who are paid to be nice to you.  That would include servers in restaurants and cashiers in stores.  Those are a vanishing species, too.  Pretty soon we will be able to order food in a restaurant from our mobile phones.  Pretty soon the stores will offer only machines to check our purchases and take our payment.

Aren’t there real people on the internet and on social media?  Aren’t they our friends?  Likely, although we never know.  There are also people pretending to be somebody else.  There are also robots pretending to be people.  The other day, Google wished me a happy birthday.  I was surprised.  How did Google know?  By the information I gave it, of course.  It’s just software wishing me a happy birthday, not a real live person.

I read all of my news on the web, but I know that it’s one-way communication, and broadcast communication at that.  I don’t have any influence on the news, although I can comment on news articles, of course.  I don’t count news as contact with a real person.

Advertizing and solicitation are all one-way communication too.  I get calls on the phone.  I get people knocking on my door.  I get e-mail and paper mail.  All of them are trying to sell me something.  This isn’t personal contact either.

When I want to converse with a real person, I rely on my family now.  People do talk to their husband, their wife, or their life partner.  They are indeed real people, most of the time.  People also talk to their children and to their relatives.  How often people do this depends on how close they want to be.  It’s a choice.  Some people are naturally close.  Others are naturally distant.  Of course, other activities can get in the way too.  It might take me a week to arrange a short conversation with a friend or relative.

I do occasionally talk to my neighbors, but they too are occupied with their families and their own friends.  Most of the time, I only talk to my neighbors when I happen to see them out in the yard.  It’s usually quite superficial and light-hearted.  Neither of us is willing to share more serious information.  I suppose we get our impression of neighbors from what they don’t say.  Maybe it’s all guesswork?

There are still some places where we have personal contact with real live people.  Various social events lead the way.  Even then, people have the opportunity to converse, but they have to take advantage of that opportunity.  They have to engage other people, often strangers, in conversation.  They may have to take the first step.  People may not be at all what you assume.  Getting to know other people may bring great rewards.

If social events are too intimidating, how about club meetings?  Generally it will be the same people at each meeting.  Soon, they won’t be strangers anymore.  The same thing holds for groups that are engaged in the same activity.  If you are slow to warm up to other people, you at least have time to get to know them at these types of events.  You will soon discover that there’s no harm in letting other people know you.  You may even find a friend that way.


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