For a long time, I traced this distancing tendency back to the remote control, but in truth, it goes back farther than that, to the advent of the television. Television gave people a reason to stay home at night. Instead of going to a play, or a movie, or a community event, people could stay home and be entertained for the evening without having to relate to anyone.
By 1947 there were 44,000 televisions in the United States as compared to 40 million radios.The first national live broadcast occurred in 1951. It was a speech by Harry Truman from the Japanese Peace Treaty in San Francisco.
What does this have to do with me? With you? Well here we are, sitting in front of our computers, our phones, tablets, or other hand-held devices sitting not too far away, and we are losing the ability to really communicate with each other, which, let's face it, we were never really that good at in the first place.
We are relying on a crutch to hobble around as our communication legs slowly atrophy beneath us. The more they atrophy, the more the crutch is needed, until all we have are useless little legs, and we have to wheel ourselves around on our technology chairs, which only serve to keep us even further away from each other. Ever tried to hug someone from a wheelchair? Awkward, if not impossible.
I have witnessed first hand people emailing each other who are working within the same fifty feet of space. I sit in restaurants and watch people all around me on their phones instead of engaging with the person they are with. I myself have become this person; my phone is always on hand, ready for when I have a moment of time to check my status on any one of several different social networking platforms.
I used to complain about "those people." Now I am one of them.
It is one of the reasons I have undertaken the projects that I have. I want to talk with people. I want to get to know them, to see the world, if only for a moment, through their eyes. I want to watch a smile spread across their face, or watch them scratch their head in bewilderment, or laugh with joy. The world both expands and shrinks when I really listen to people, when I am really curious about them, when I allow them to express themselves honestly and openly, without judgement. The more I get to know them, the less I fear them, and the more brave I become about meeting new people.
It is a big reason I am teaching classes on How to Pick Up Dudes. Picking Up Dudes in real time is so much more thrilling than doing it via Tinder, Plenty of Fish, OK Cupid or Match. In fact, it is also much less time consuming and more safe. This might sound ridiculous to you, but hear me out. As someone who has spent a TON of time on dating websites, I can tell you, you spend more time on line sending messages back and forth trying to get to know someone before you actually meet them than you would simply going out to a public place and looking for another person to talk to.
No matter how long you have messaged, emailed, or otherwise sexted with an individual (come on, we all do it), it all comes down to the face-to-face, eye-to-eye meeting. It all comes down to smell, to smile, to laugh. It comes down, in the end, to the human experience. It is virtually impossible to truly experience another through a device. But still, we do it, through fear or laziness, or folly, we continue on.
It is scary to go out and try and talk to a stranger. There are all kinds of crazy, dangerous people out there, according to Fox News. But what a compliment it is to the person who you make the effort to meet. What a wonderful surprise it is when a complete stranger shows interest in you in real time, without a computer or device to hide behind. It is the difference between butter and margarine, letters and emails, Tofurky and turkey. It is The Real Deal.
I know why it scares me. I have a very deep desire to truly be seen, but a horrible fear of the rejection I might face if I ask for it. It is easier to ask via email, when I don't have to look into a person's eyes, or feel the disgust I imagine that they have for me when they refuse to look.
But none of that is real. We are all of us afraid. And our fear is what keeps us at home on the couch, or on our devices, or in the corner with our beer, not raising our eyes to meet anyone's gaze. Our fear drives us away from each other, from the very good things that can happen when two, three or four people meet.
Yes, I am teaching classes called How to Pick Up Dudes. But what I am really teaching is the skill of reaching out, through your greatest fears, to grab ahold of someone and pull. I am teaching the skill of engagement. I am teaching people how to celebrate the human experience. We are all, after all, human.
This business, this blog, these classes, are my way of fighting back. My way of standing up for the eye-to-eye experience, my way of calling bullshit on my fears. In my classes, you don't just learn How to Pick Up Dudes. You learn the very human skill of communication, you learn to face your fear of The Other, and through that work, come to realize that The Other is not separate, that The Other is in fact a fabrication that only exists in your mind.
What are you going to do today to reach out and pull? Who are you going to look in the eye? What fear are you going to prove false?
Turn off your television, put down your device, and talk to someone. You will be glad you did.
And if you are interested in dating classes, send me an email. I promise I will respond within twenty-four hours.