Over time our fingers have learnt to do more talking than our mouth. With WhatsApp, Instagram stories and likes on Facebook, the touchscreen buttons and emoticons do the talking for us. Intentionally and unintentionally we are “checking out “people or friends and even strangers. We “digitally” know what our friends are doing and where they are. Based on what we see, generally we end up assuming that they are doing well, may be having a great time and enjoying good health.
How many of us really check on people or friends? Especially our extended family members or friends living far away? How many of us call or message to check on them, their wellbeing? How they are feeling?
It is well known by now that the stories and images of people on social media does not reflect the true-life state, they are in. We have many famous examples as well with the likes of Anthony Bourdain, Robin Williams, Vincent Van Gogh and many more. Most of their struggle with loneliness and mental health issues came as a shock to the world.
In the growing digital age, a relationship wellbeing is checked on digitally, with emoticons, read receipts. Complexity of the situation is that in spite of people being in sight, they are out of mind!
Most often either we hesitate, or we don’t know how to initiate a conversation, or we simply don’t care as we are to busy in our lives (working and checking out other people)
In my practice, I often get cases of young adults and adults struggling to communicate even with their own parents and siblings. In one such case the client mentions “I am usually in touch with my family and friends through our WhatsApp groups, I don’t know what to talk to them on a call”.
On one hand it is true that social media has helped people find long lost friends and is a facilitator to connect with others. While on the other hand, over-dependence on social media to connect with others, impacts our communication skills and the quality of the relationship. If we look at historic times, connection between Human being happened more naturally through our senses of sights, touch and sound. Till today, these are still fundamental in any given relationship.
Here are few suggestions which might get you started
Use technology effectively if your friends and family are living far away. Connect via WhatsApp video or Skype calling. Set specific time during the week or day to video call. If you tend to forget, simply put a reminder.
Take the initiative to set up catch up coffee meet.
Identify a bunch of people whom you wish to be in touch regularly. Make it a point to message them individually. There is no harm or loss to be the first one to always check on them.
Ask questions rather than talk only about yourself. It is not always about you! You never know that your friend or family member just wants you to listen. Send and post greetings. Well it may sound old fashioned, but a personal written birthday wishes or new year greeting still holds a lot of value. It shows the thought and time the person has spent in expressing their greetings. Use re-cycled greetings or even better make one yourself!
Don’t you think it is time we start “checking on” people? Not to tell our story but to hear their story, not to sympathise but to empathize, to be part of their story and making them part of ours.
What are your thoughts on this article? How do you “check on” people you love and like?