I am really dating myself but I remember when the first e-mail was sent in 1971. I was also around in the early 80’s when we were astounded with our first office fax machine that would transmit a document across the Country in SIX MINUTES! About the same time I saw my first handheld portable telephone that was about 13 inches long and weighed almost 2 pounds! At $3000 it was considered a gimmick, a rich man's toy, with questionable utility. It was so big and heavy, even its creators nicknamed it 'The Brick'. Plus, you could only use it for a half an hour before the battery gave out. The average salary in 1984 was $9,000. Who would even use it when payphones were everywhere and they only cost a dime to use? It took until the late 80’s for the World Wide Web to even be proposed! All of this technology’s development took about 10 years. We were astounded at the speed! Unheard of in today’s ‘instant world’! Heck, it seems there’s a new version of an i-Phone every day and a half!
It took until 1990 (another 10 years) to build to 2.6 million Internet users; the approximate population of the city of Chicago in 2010. Another year went by before, in 1991, the World Wide Web went public. That was a huge deal! People were just getting used to the fact that they could send an instant piece of mail across the country! Since then we have seen the development of Hotmail and AOL (1997), Google (1998), Wikipedia and iPods (2001), LinkedIn, Skype and myspace.com (2003) and Facebook in 2004 (only for Harvard students)! These developments were quickly followed by You Tube, Twitter, Tumblr and the iPhone. In 2006 Google reached 400 million searches EVERY DAY! In 2009 'Unfriend' was added to the Oxford American Dictionary and there were 250 million Face Book users. Pinterest soon followed and you could access some sort of Social Media from virtually anywhere on Earth! On March 12, 2012 the World population exceeded 7 Billion people and Mobile subscriptions reached 6 billion in the same year! That means more than 85% of everyone on Earth is 'connected'. Now, in 2017, the President of the United States seemingly cannot go through a day without 'Tweeting'.
During my life I have experienced all of these developments and so much more. What a wonderful life experience! Flower Children, Women’s Movement, Equal Rights Movement, Viet Nam War. Free Love, John F. Kennedy – “Ask not what your Country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your Country.” My husband remarked, as we reached our 50’s looking back that if our Generation (Flower Children-Peace and Love, Man!) had the Internet to communicate we would have taken over the Government and started from scratch! Sadly I have also experienced much that is very sad in this world. I hesitate to call all the days past ‘the good old days’ because there was much that needed Change. But one thing that has gone awry frightens me.
With the development of all of this ‘connectedness’ I believe we have lost all of our ‘connectedness’! We have lost what is basic to our Humanity. During that tumultuous ‘Free Love’ Era we spoke to each other while looking each other in the eyes. Even when we were angry there was an underlying respect and restraint because we saw the instant result of our words. We could see it on their face. Looking into each other’s eyes created an ‘instant connection’ between us. We could see into each other. We immediately saw any pain we inflicted. We saw another’s Truth. Or professed love. Our eyes created a path to one another’s Soul; a way for us to ‘feel’ the other’s emotion. In a word: Empathy.
So we lost one thing you might say. Look at everything we have gained! Instant and limitless information, the ability to know where our loved ones are at all times, wonderful technology to make our lives so much easier. Aren’t these changes making our life better?
Let’s look at some of the changes.
We only see each other’s words. We don’t HEAR each other’s words. Or hear the inflections in our voices. Or see the accompanying body language. When we see into each other’s eyes we can feel each other’s words – and see the immediate impact of our own. We used to say ‘Look me in the eye and say that’ because then we could assess the Truth. We can feel each other’s truth. The words we see could have been aggressive or just seeking truth. But the ‘inflection’ would tell you which. We can no longer hear the inflection; we just see the words. We have always had bullies. But now those people that may not have considered bullying in the past feel safe to be just that. Bullying has become anonymous. And more pervasive. And more common.
We don’t see the impact of our cruel words. We have become uncomfortable with eye-contact or find it threatening (‘what are you LOOKING AT?). No connection leaves us ‘wanting’ and that makes us ‘angry’ because as Humans we need a connection to one another. We have become cruel to our fellow man because we crave a connection with our fellow man and we cannot see him/her. We feel no Empathy for our fellow man. We consider those we communicate with through Social Media our Friends. No Human contact yet they are our friends.
We have lost the ability to have conversation – civil or otherwise. We have lost the ability to connect with one another. A whole Generation never learned it. We have lost the ability to debate in a civil manner. Bosses think if they are to be an effective Boss they must rule with an Iron Hand; they must be intimidating;demanding. Long gone is the Boss you would do anything for; follow anywhere. Day to Day communication then and now has changed completely.
When we look into each other’s eyes we can see into each other’s Souls. Speaking to one another without a word says more to each other at a much deeper level – connects us at our core/soul/center. Use just actions or touch to communicate. This is a lesson that the most successful couples know. Connecting through extended eye contact before love-making intensifies the love-making according to Tantra Practices and this author.
Republican Warren Limmer sits in the second row of the Minnesota state Senate. He says more than 80 percent of his colleagues sit behind him. But he doesn't dare turn around to look at them when he gets up to speak. He might get scolded. It has happened before.
"Then my cadence is thrown off," Limmer said. "I have to beg forgiveness to the Senate president. And then I'll get a slight admonishment, and then I can proceed."
What? There is an actual RULE that says you are NOT ALLOWED to look at someone when you speak in the Minnesota State Senate!
Minnesota Senate Rule 36.8 requires that all remarks during debate be addressed to the Senate president at the front of the chamber. It has been on the books forever. And it's actually a rule most state legislatures have. Even the U.S. Senate has it! And we wonder why they are in such disarray?! But Minnesota — known for its ‘Minnesota Nice’ — takes it one step further, interpreted to mean that senators cannot look at each other during debate.
Some Minnesotans say banning eye contact in the state Legislature reflects Minnesota values. How sad is that? Rule 36.8 simply reads "All remarks during debate shall be addressed to the President." When Sen. Tom Bakk became majority leader two years ago, he read that to mean senators cannot look at each other during debate.
"Going through the president forces people to listen rather than watch facial expressions and look at each other, which sometimes I think kind of inflames some of the rhetoric going back and forth," Bakk said.
Some senators, like Limmer, wanted the rule changed. But most of his colleagues disagreed. When he proposed it the state Senate voted 44-15 to keep the rule. In this day and age of intense political rancor, Minnesota is trying to keep things, well, nice. But does a lack of eye contact really keep things more civil? Nice? The answers might be found, believe it or not, in animal behavioral science.
He added that he believes it elevates decorum — because eye contact can make people more aggressive. And to prove he's right, he said to consider the sometimes unruly Minnesota state House, which doesn't have the rule. Interestingly the Animal Kingdom interprets ‘eye contact’ as aggression. Have we reverted to Animal Behavior? What has happened to our Humanity?
We must be the Change Makers! Small changes like 'eye-contact' will make a big difference. Paying attention to our words will make a big difference. Being kind will make a big difference. Changing our way of thinking will make a big difference. We choose our way of thinking! Think outside yourself! Think first about what can I do to make another smile? Just one person a day. Every day! The change will spread in your own circle. . . .then outside your circle. . . . . . and outside that circle. . . . .and outside that circle. . . . . .and we will evolve.