Apr 21, 2011

Are We Turning into Lonely Islands ?


Man is by nature a social animal. Even those of us who cherish our solitude seek company from time to time. Unless you are a yogi totally immersed in the search for self realization, I don’t think anybody would like to live a totally solitary life!

I sometimes feel that in today’s world, we are slowly turning into lonely islands. We definitely live in wonderful times in terms of communication. We have the latest gizmos at our disposal that allow us to connect with each other in mere seconds. But I wonder if this is not isolating us more from each other rather than helping us! I was travelling in the metro a few days back and the train was full of Delhi University students. You would expect them to create a ruckus talking and laughing together right? Dead wrong! All of them were either busy texting, browsing the net on their mobiles or had earphones stuck in their ears. There was no interaction at all! We have hundreds of friends on facebook and we buzz each other constantly. I wonder exactly how many of our numerous facebook friends can actually be called when we are in trouble. 1, may be 2?

Nowadays, most of us live and work alone. And I don’t mean just the single people, even young couples living alone in a new city feel isolated because they are away from their families. Earlier, at least in India tension and stress could be diffused easily because we had so many people to talk to- parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends. Now most of us live away from our parents and are hardly in touch with our cousins and childhood friends who themselves have flown the nest in search of their dreams.

Lack of a solid support system and the hectic lives that we lead are the main reasons for the increase in loneliness and stress. This makes it even more important for us to make extra efforts to be friendly with the people around us. But we are so busy and involved in our own selves that we don’t even have time to say hello or give a little smile to others. We don’t know who our next door neighbor is and in some cases we don’t even know who the guy sitting in the next cubicle at work is.

We live isolated lives, feeling alone and uncared for, worrying over the issues and problems in our lives, not able to share them with anyone. And this makes the problems seem much much worse than they actually are!

I remember a colleague telling me that she saw another girl crying in the washroom at work. When I asked her if she asked the girl what was wrong, my colleague replied that she was running late for a meeting and had no time to get involved in others problems! In our race to earn more money, live in a bigger house, get that promotion, meet that deadline we are forgetting small things such as empathy and compassion. And believe me, in the long run these things matter more than all the materialistic things put together.

Now you might ask how a smile or even a few words of greeting can make a difference in the life of a person who is facing an extremely difficult situation in life. I read a story once in Chicken soup for the soul in which a young girl recounts how she had decided to kill herself because of an abusive stepfather. That day in school, her creative writing teacher complimented her about her writing skills and told her she could be a great writer one day. Just because of those few words of praise the girl felt her life was worth living and she dropped the idea of suicide. Sometimes just the feeling that people care enough about us to smile at us is enough. All we need is someone to listen to us and sympathize with us. We don’t need people to find solutions to our problems; we just need a few kind words!

Whenever I am down in the dumps I read a message I got from my friend in which she thanked me for her friendship and told me what a wonderful human being and friend I am. It never fails to cheer me up!
So let’s make a beginning today. Smile at colleagues, talk to the lady you sit next to in the bus every day, compliment your team mates about the good work they are doing. You will not only make their day, but believe me; this will also make you feel really happy!

Preeti of Just a mother of two has also blogged about the growing “urban apathy”. She writes about Free Love Day, an event that is happening worldwide on 25th April to promote awareness about suicide and depression, as well as a Lifestyle to promote unconditional love. Why not join in and spread the word!

It’s time we build bridges across those lonely islands!

Apr 19, 2011

Driving Stereotypes !

The lane leading up to my house is really narrow and there is no way two cars can pass side by side specially if there are cars already parked on both sides of the lane.
So I was driving up this lane when another car with a woman driver turned the corner and started coming straight towards me. She realized too late that  she would not be able to pass me so she stopped. I rolled down my window and told her to back her car – there was a lot of space to reverse on her side and none on mine. She tried backing, but instead of going back straight she almost hit the car parked on the right side of the lane and then reversed too much on the left and almost hit the car parked there. She kept doing this for about 4-5 minutes. I could see she was novice and was getting really nervous. It was also raining really hard and that made matters worse. By this time there were at least four cars behind me all honking.
Finally I got down, politely asked her if she needed help. She said she was new to driving and was not confident enough about reversing her car in a crowded lane. I got in her car, reversed it, walked back to my car and drove home.
All’s well that ends well. So why am I telling you this story? Because while I was out there trying to help her in the pouring rain, the male drivers in the cars behind me had all got together and were laughing and passing comments on the stupidity of women drivers.
Perhaps the esteemed gentlemen in our housing society were born with perfect driving skills? Or perhaps they think it’s good manners to laugh at someone in distress rather than help him/her ?
 

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