In the past twenty years and even more so in the past decade with the advent of social media, we got so used to immediate contact with friends, family and work. While this is good in many situations it comes with a downside. We are hardwired to worry about our group and about our image within that group, which is natural and understandable, now the problem begins when “our group” is constantly growing, to the point that sometimes includes thousands of individuals, and they are 24 hours directly connected with us. That, inevitably, causes stress and anxiety since we can’t handle such degree of connectedness at a psychological or emotional level.
I used to work out in the street, a very busy one, and some of the friends that came to visit stated the same issue: they felt stressed out when they were there but couldn’t put their finger on what it was the reason for them feeling such way. I think it was the same reason we get anxious when we let ourselves get carried away by the flow of our social feeds: too many information, too many people we may or may not interact with, too many faces, too many points of attention. Our brain tries so hard to keep track of every possible interaction it gets exhausted.
Today I had an argument with my partner. We live in different countries and don’t have friends in common except for a couple of acquaintances on my side but we are not really close, which means if something happen to the other and for whatever reason we cannot text the other we have no way to know what is going on. Yesterday I visited a friend who lives deep in the countryside and while away my partner didn’t hear from me for like 5 hours and didn’t know exactly were I was or what I was doing so she got a little anxious since she texted me at 8 PM without answer on my part, and usually I’m home that early, more often that not in bed, reading… I made fun of her for being so overprotective, but she pointed out I did pretty much the same to her few days earlier… Both of us were right. My point being none of us are jealous or overprotective and yet we both got worried about the other in a matter of hours without solid reason.
I think we are so used to be in constant contact with our loved ones that we don’t realize that maybe is not actually healthy. If the situation I mentioned had happened 20 years ago, she wouldn’t have a means to communicate with me directly, yet she wouldn’t worry about me, she just would just have go about her things as usual without worries, and we would talk as usual, as if nothing had happened, two or three days later: no worries, no argument, no need for explanations because nothing actually had happened and no one did anything wrong.
Today we feel the need, the urge, to reach the other person, to know about her, even if we know they are out and about hanging out with friends, minding their business, hiking in the woods or relaxing in a tropical beach in a remote island. Well, I truly believe that’s not good. It’s harmful and, to some extent, degrading for us all. Being in touch with our beloved ones is great, but being overconnected is harmful from a psychological point of view. I think we need to raise our awareness on this issue, demand our right to privacy, our right to be alone, and let the others too enjoy their privacy and their time alone. I think the next time someone says to me something like “I’ll call when I arrive”, I would say something like “Please, don’t, you are already busy, so do not put another duty on you: call me tomorrow or the other day if you feel like it”.