The Human Condition
The struggle for today’s teenager is not how to survive, but to be relevant. Of course this only applies to societies that can take care of basic needs, leaving people the time to think. In our country, just about everyone has a cell phone. A lot of those are smartphones which can do more than make calls, allowing people to go on the internet and instantly become connected to a variety of like-minded groups. It’s easy to get connected. So easy, in fact, that it’s not uncommon to see people absorbed in the world their phone contains. If you look around just about anywhere, you’ll see someone texting away, almost completely ignoring their surroundings except for the path they need to follow to get to wherever they’re going. I don’t mean to say that I have anything particular against technology because if it’s not a cellphone, it’s a music player or a book. The latter, sadly, is the one I see the least. This may be surprising, but I find it strange that so many people would rather know the little details of a person’s life through status feeds than read a book. We’re constantly looking for a quick escape from our surroundings because for some reason very few people can simply do nothing. I mean nothing in a strong sense: not playing video games or talking to someone or thinking about things that aren’t currently present. When was the last time you simply were? When was the last time you just stood or sat and observed, being fully in the present? There’s a problem nowadays where we’re being taught to be speakers, not observers, doers instead of learners. We’re being taught that unless someone knows you’re there you simply don’t exist, so you broadcast your existence for the sole purpose of knowing that someone knows you’re still there. People need to have someone listen to them and most conversations nowadays seem to be a struggle for control, an anticipation for their turn to talk. This is one of the major reasons why we’re so lonely nowadays. It’s why people feel alone enough to need antidepressants or pills for their social anxiety, why there’s such a huge market for someone to talk to, whether it’s a psychotherapist or a stranger on the internet. Listen, I know you’re busy looking at funny cat pictures or listening to music that doesn’t really mean anything but has a good beat but the fact of the matter is that there are people around you right now. There’s classmates and teachers, strangers and strangers who you nearly had an accident with in the parking lot, and there’s me. Even if you’re home alone, there’s somebody there who needs to talk to you. I’m emphasizing the word “need” here, just in case you missed that. There are people who are dying to be acknowledged and listened to, people who have so much to teach you about empathy and random facts and how not to act and how to deal with the breakup you’re either considering or trying to get over. I know this sounds harsh, but you’re not unique. There are thousands, if not millions of people who have gone through any situation you’ll ever have to deal with. Or maybe there’s just one. Maybe there’s just one person who can tell you how they dealt with their parent’s divorce or how they got a job and it’ll be the advice you need. You may feel like you’re alone and whether you choose to acknowledge your pains or not, there’s someone who can help you. Some of the best advice I could ever give you is to open up. Stop what you’re doing to keep you from being bored or looking like a loser, and talk to someone. Not only that, but talk to them about classes and their family and what they like. You’ll find more similarities than you’d expect. Everyone’s afraid to be judged; you’re not alone and I can promise there are people in the world who won’t think you’re crazy for whatever it is you want to say. Most importantly, listen. Listen to someone and let the conversation go where someone else wants to take it and ask questions, even personal ones. Listen because as lonely as you may feel during your darkest hours, there’s someone just like you. There’s someone who’s been or is at this very second just as lonely as you. Oh, and another thing, it won’t kill you to make eye contact and smile at a stranger. Keep that in mind too.