The lovely Amanda has written a second blog. I will be writing an update for you all soon. Life as a one handed person has been very challenging and taught me how to hang on hard to the hand of Hope. I hope you enjoy this very interesting topic.
The Hope of Being Heard
Mindfulness has become so popular over the last decade and I wonder if this directly correlates with the rise of the smart phone taking over our lives and our attention swinging from each other to our phones and our need to come back to ourselves and our kin. We have to be mindful in order to stop our phones taking over our lives. They can be a double-edged sword. On the one hand actually enabling us to communicate with our loved ones and achieve practical transactions and on the other providing a rabbit hole of a brain drain absorbing our time and attention and many of our waking hours. My average daily usage of my smart phone last week was 4 hours 46 minutes! What? Really! And my phone can even tell me what I was doing, calculating my social networking and my ‘productivity’ and my ‘other’, goodness only knows what ‘other’ entails!
I am thinking about this because I have often mused about our communication changing over the last decade or more. When I was a teenager it seemed easy and simple to contact a friend on the landline. If the phone rang at home it was answered. We rarely didn’t answer our landline. You didn’t know who was calling and there was no way of finding out until telephones became digitalised and answer machines were invented. It seemed a simple way to communicate and I spent hours talking to friends of an evening.
A few years ago, I started to analyse my landline use and now smartphone use. I realised people hardly ever rang me on the landline and I hardly ever rang anyone else, except my mother. What had happened? I regularly used the phone at work, but even so observed that emails had taken over in the communication ranks and I spoke to colleagues less on the phone. People rarely seemed available what with the plethora of meetings and travelling. I was increasingly neglecting the landline in favour of the mobile phone in the vain attempt to reach an actual person. But the biggest revelation about my relational life came when I realised I hadbecome nervous about phoning friends. It was all about rejection. I couldn’t face ringing anyone because I rarely obtained an answer. This made me feel down hearted. I usually rang friends when I really wanted to talk so my needs for connection were not being met.
But what was really happening? I was craving friendship, attention, connection from friends whom I couldn’t just pop round to see because they lived further away,and it was feeling impossible. However, when I take into account the absorbing nature of the smart phone my theorising turned to another modern concept, that of being ‘busy’. Are we really busier than ten years ago? I kept hearing these words: “I’m very busy” consistently for a number of years. It started to bug me. I wondered why everyone seemed so busy! I was curious if this was a reason or a justification for unavailability. Then I thought back to the consuming nature of the smart phone or what I call the modern equivalent of the Tamagotchi. We are busy because if any time window opens up, we pick up our phone, (my phone actually tells me how many ‘pick ups’ I’ve had per day!) we check our phone, we message back, we post on social media, (yes, my social media ‘score’ on my weekly averages was much higher than my ‘productivity’!) And so the concept of permanently being busy is born, because, yes, we actually are ‘busy’, (I would like to say ‘busy doing nothing’ at this point, but I enjoy social media and the convenience of the smart phone as much as the next person), if we are not mindful of how we are using our time we feel as if we don’t have time for everything we would like to do, hence we must be busy.
Another observation I had made was how I had stopped ‘popping round’ to friends’ ad hoc, which when I younger and until the turn of this century was very common. I was feeling lonely and isolated despite having lots of good friends. I live on my own so any feelings like this compound some level of rejection or isolation. I had to hope something would change and someone out there would pick up their phone and listen to me or answer their door and be pleased to welcome me into their home. I know I am not alone; loneliness is considered to be a modern epidemic with over 45% of adults in England feeling lonely at some point. This is the equivalent of 20 million people!
EventuallyI worked out a solution, a system of texting to arrange a phone call at a convenient time, and in fact the pandemic has actually opened up more communication as many people are reaching out from their isolation to make any form of human connection possible.
I love this from Nancy Kline an author I admire: “We can stop all forms of interruption. We can decide right now to be masters of our attention, to commit to the flourishing of our minds, of our hearts, of our very nature.” Our attention to each other ‘changes things’ if we choose to not interrupt and understand each other we can unleash independent thinking through our humility and our humanity. For me, having someone listen to me is really important. I discover new thinking and ideas as I talk to a trusted person. As Nancy notes in her new book attention “bestows sanity. It shapes and reveals and shapes again who we are. It offers ease in the face of uncertainty. It can stop things like hatred and start things like love.”Isn’t this what we need the hope of love, of connection, of discovery of ourselves and others?
We have to hope someone out there will pick up their phone and listen to us or answer their door so we can chat safely distanced on our doorsteps or on the street or at the supermarket.
So, today’s recipe of hope is to reach out to someone whom you have not been in contact with recently and give them a call. Give them your attention and listen without interrupting and see what you both discover.I hope amazing things happen!
Take care and have a good day, Amanda
The Promise That Changes Everything: I Won’t Interrupt You by Nancy Kline, published by Penguin Life on 29 October 2020