“We get so wrapped up in numbers in our society. The most important thing is that we are able to be one-to-one, you and I with each other at the moment. If we can be present to the moment with the person that we happen to be with, that’s what’s important.”
This morning, I read an article about the spiraling attendance at professional sporting events. I expected the article to say that the reasons for this were high prices, disappointed fans (yes, I am a Washington Redskins fan), or lack of interest, but I can’t say I was surprised to read that the decline is actually attributed to…
Yes, you read that right. Netflix is seen as the number one deterrent to live game attendance at stadiums and arenas. It seems that people want to stay home and watch endless streams of entertainment in their living room rather than enjoy a day as part of a community.
I wonder if Maslow were alive today, would he amend his Hierarchy of Needs or would he be traveling the world, desperately trying to remind people that we need to belong, to feel a sense of connection, to obtain intimacy, to have friends, to have real and true social stability and the respect of others, and most of all acceptance? Would he have bought into the nonsense that our most basic needs require us to shut ourselves off from any and all LIVE human interaction and mire ourselves in the swamp of computer monitors, keyboards, television screens, and the lies and exaggerations that exist within all forms of present-day media?
I think back on my happiest moments this year alone and they are the times I went on trips to visit friends, shared meals with family and friends, played games at a real table using real game pieces (not staring at a screen), and even attending sporting events at all levels from my daughter’s tennis matches to games at FedEx Field. While I cherish my long-distance friendships, sustained through messaging, Facebook, and email, I long for those moments with them which consist of one-on-one interaction, face-to-face conversations, and in-person fun. As Fred Rogers said, “that’s what’s important.”
There are so many studies about social media and its negative effect on our lives and mental health. A study published in the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology showed that “Using less social media than you normally would leads to significant decreases in both depression and loneliness.” Reread that. Using social media LESS decreases loneliness! How can this be? Because “When you look at other people’s lives, particularly on Instagram, it’s easy to conclude that everyone else’s life is cooler or better than yours.” Going back to Maslow’s Hierarchy, social media leads you to believe that you do not belong. It creates a false reality that topples your social stability. It reduces your intimate friendships to a competition of whose life is better. And I have to believe this is even more so for those people who ONLY have online friends, thus separating them even farther from real-life social interactions.
So, what does this all have to do with Netflix robbing franchises of their sports fans? The streaming phenomena further alienates us from the real world and from live friendships, which are crucial to our development, to our well-being, our, to our abilities to live happy, successful lives.
Yesterday, my mother and I went to see Downton Abby. We sat in a dark theater along with a few dozen other women (and one man who snored loudly part-way through the movie). We laughed, cried, and whispered to each other about the people and events in the movie. Sure, we could have waited for it to be on Netflix, but the very acts of having lunch together, driving to the movie, whispering back and forth, and then discussing the movie the whole way home were acts that would have been very different had we waited and watched the movie separately, at our own homes, on our television screens.
And the same goes for sports. When I watch my Skins, Ken is there with me, kind of–watching the game, working on his laptop, running in and out to finish cutting the grass, empty the trash, or work on some other minor project he can complete during a time-out or commercial break. When we go to a game, we are both there, watching every play, cheering with those around us (or grumbling at the inept coaching and ridiculous play calls). The bottom line is, we are “present to the moment.” We are enjoying the company of each other, friends, and others with a common interest. We are not sitting in a room, alone, yelling at the screen (yes, I tend to do that–a lot).
No man is an island entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main; if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as any manner of thy friends or of thine own were; any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind. And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee. -John Donne
Life is about living. It is about love. It is about connecting with others, sharing with others, looking out for others, BEING WITH others. It is not about being alone. It is not about scrolling through a Facebook page to see what others have or have not. It is not about spending all of your time in your basement, headphones blocking out those around you, eyes glued to a screen. What despair and loneliness we reap when we don’t engage with others, and how much more desperate and lonely will we all be if we don’t teach our children to engage, to reach out to others in a real and tangible way, and to learn to be in the moment with those around us.
As Mr. Rogers so eloquently put it, “The connections we make in the course of a life–maybe that’s what heaven is.”
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How ironic is this??? What I was writing about a year ago this week: Friendly Deception – how social media is changing our relationships and what we can do about it.
Amy Schisler is an award-winning author of both children’s books and sweet, faith-filled romance novels for readers of all ages. She lives with her husband and three daughters on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Her books, Picture Me, Whispering Vines, and Island of Miracles are all recipients of Illumination Awards, placing them among the top inspirational fiction books of 2015, 2016, and 2017. Whispering Vines was awarded the 2017 LYRA Award for the best romance of 2016. Island of Miracles has outsold all of Amy’s other books worldwide and ranked as high as 600 on Amazon. Her follow up, Island of Promise is a reader favorite. Amy’s children’s book is The Greatest Gift. The suspense novel, Summer’s Squall, and all of Amy’s books, can be found online and in stores. Her latest novel, Island of Promise, was recently awarded First Prize by the Oklahoma Romance Writer’s Association as the best Inspirational Romance of 2018 and was awarded a Gold Medal in the Independent Publisher Book Awards 2019 for Inspirational Fiction. It is the 2019 winner for Best Inspirational Fiction in the RWA Golden Quill Contest, Best Romance in the American Book Awards, and a finalist for the Eric Hoffer Award of Fiction. Amy’s 2019 work, The Devil’s Fortune, is based, in part, on her family history and is garnering many five star reviews.
Book Three of the Chincoteague Island Trilogy, Island of Hope, is now available! Order your copy today of the “book that was a joy to read!”- Ann on GoodReads.
Amy’s books: Crabbing With Granddad (2013), A Place to Call Home (2014), Picture Me (2015), Whispering Vines (2016), Island of Miracles (2017), Stations of the Cross Meditations for Moms (2017), The Greatest Gift (2017), Summer’s Squall (2017), Island of Promise (2018), The Devil’s Fortune (2019), Island of Hope (2019).