How Our Millennial Communication Style is Ruining Our Quality of Life
Is it just me, or do we just not know how to talk to each other anymore? We can type behind a screen like we are some socializing rockstar––cool AF and owning life––but in person we crumble like a cheap dollar tree cookie. (I'm hungry so that's the first thing that came to my mind. Seriously going to bake cookies after this).
But honestly, what have we become?! It seriously breaks my heart.
I remember growing up and being the craziest social butterfly. Ready to spread my sparkling wings, making it rain with "YES" rsvp cards like dollar bills all over the land!
(are you picturing it? Because it was glorious).
My parents used to joke that their friends didn't even know I existed because I was always with friends and jumping from one event to the next. I know a lot of you were the same way––and now where are we? Sitting on our couches surrounded with our cute Home Goods decor, watching the latest season of whatever show, and "liking" our way through our newsfeeds...ALONE. Okay our dog is next to us. That counts as social company, right?
I love furry babies. But NO. It does not!
The funniest thing is we make excuses for why we don't socialize––like it's totally out of our control. Here are some of my favorite common excuses we all use and my *sarcastic, but true* responses to them:
- "I don't have time!" –– But you have the time to spend countless hours glued to Netflix? Even Netflix is saying "Are you still watching?" ....because it can't believe any human-being would spend this much time watching this crap. Get up up and shower, you lazy bum.
- "My friends all have kids and families and don't have the time." –– So wait, you're telling me that EVERY SINGLE person in your life has children...and each one has zero hours to set aside....and NOT ONE can find a babysitter for an hour to take a lunch or walk in the park. Not even ONCE a month?? Seems legit.
- "It's WAY too cold out." –– Okay, winter months in the Midwest DOES suck. I get it. But I didn't know there was a law enforced that we had to socialize outside in the freezing cold. Interesting. I don't know if you've heard of these things called theaters, coffee shops, concert venues, bowling alleys, bars, shopping malls, indoor DIY workshops, restaurants, and home kitchens? I'm told they are great places to stay warm and socialize. NAH! that can't be true. Seems too easy.
- "I am introverted." –– Oh okay. Yes you're the ONLY one who likes to stay inside and be lazy and not talk to people. WELCOME TO THE DAMN CLUB, SISTER!
We all have an introverted side and can self-conscious when it comes to social interaction. But if God blessed you with the ability to walk, talk, see, and not be chronically ill in a hospital bed––you better start fricken using it. Because there are PLENTY of people who would kill for the ability to. We all can't keep using "introverted" as an excuse to not socialize.
- "I'm broke." –– Psh. You weren't broke when you filled your cart at Target with $200 worth of random items for your dog and house you don't even have yet, Sally! *Any 'sally's' out there no offense to you...your name just popped into my head. Love you, Sally's––you're fabulous.* But you all know I'm right. We spend our money on stupid things instead of investing them into experiences that can help us grow––I'm guilty of it too. Target is my kryptonite. But let's not forget, there are PLENTY of things we can do for free or under $10–-and we know it.
I know there are countless other excuses we use to stay inside, and usually behind a screen of some type, but we just CAN'T do it anymore.
If you step back and take a hard look at your life, I am sure you don't feel as fulfilled as you hope for.
There are things you daydream about while you are flipping through the channels or scrolling through your newsfeed. You see people taking adventures, being around friends or family, and trying new things––and you buzz off of it––but you don't gain from it. It actually makes you feel even worse.
It's us trying to virtually live vicariously through others. We are literally sucked in and feel like we are there in that moment––WE FEEL AMAZING. We get a little taste of that rush they feel.
But then the second that phone gets put down, or TV turns of, there we are. Sitting in our same sweat pants from the day before, hair unwashed, trusty microwave burritos by our side, wondering why we feel like total shit.
Let's shed some light on this....
There is a recent study I read that compared digital screens to cocaine. They activate the same frontal part of the brain, similar to the effect of cocaine, and makes us addicted. Here's the thing with addiction of any kind––it's unhealthy, debilitating, can ruin our relationships, make us feel powerless, and we can have withdrawals. This is what's happening to us on a daily basis with putting our social lives in the hands of a screen. We feel so high from it...but then the buzz wears off and we are like...uhhh what the hell just happened? Give me my blanket. Shut off the lights. The world hates me.
Let's get more facts *LOVE ME SOME FACTS* In another study of 7,000 men and women in Alameda County, Calif., begun in 1965, Lisa F. Berkman and S. Leonard Syme found that “people who were disconnected from others were roughly three times more likely to die during the nine-year study than people with strong social ties,”
This study showed that even people who lived unhealthy lifestyles with habits like smoking, obesity, and lack of exercise actually lived longer than those who don't have those habits, but have poor social ties but more healthy habits. The study also strongly stated, “Needless to say, people with both healthful lifestyles and close social ties lived the longest of all.” Source: NY Times Magazine
Are you sick of feeling unfulfilled and anti-social?
Here's what to do....
- STOP. MAKING. EXCUSES. It's so hard to do and I understand. I work on this daily. But if you really want to change your life––you need to change your habits. And making excuses is one of the most debilitating habits for a social life.
- Invest your money in experiences. Just getting out and having experiences will bring you closer to others and create new, healthy relationships. There was a study I read back in college that said couples who fell in love the fastest were ones who had experiences together––especially ones that were thrilling.
- Be strict with your screen time. This is an extreme measure....but we all may need it. There are timed lock boxes you can use to lock up your phone for a certain amount of time to keep you from excessive screen time. Worth investing in? Maybe!
- Make plans that cannot be easily broken. This one is tough because well, we can all be assholes. Canceling plans has become the norm––and I HATE it. Making plans where you invest, like buying a ticket, makes it harder to break because you have dollars invested. Or put yourself in charge of an event for multiple people so there is more weight on your shoulders to make things happen.
- Think about the long-term. This is the thing that puts me in check EVERY time. I think about when I'm 90. Grey..saggy...probably a little cooky...in my rocking chair, and looking back on my life. The thought I never want to come into my head is, "I wish I would have seen more/done more." It's like I said before, if the Lord has blessed you with the ability to move, see, and interact....DO IT. Because there will be a day you can't––even if you want to.
- Start slow. If you are more introverted or nervous about social interaction, you don't have to dive in right away. Do small things like quick coffee dates with a friend or having them over for lunch at your place. Work your way up to couple vacations or investing in workshops or classes.
- Journal your social highs. You will notice the more you have face-to-face social interactions you will get a buzz off of it. Write it down! Cherish and remember that feeling. So next time you feel like you don't want to socialize you can look back and remember how great it made you feel.
- Find common ground. Sometimes we don't want to socialize because we feel like we don't have people who can relate to us. Find groups and activities that you ENJOY. If you hate yoga, don't sign up for a yoga retreat. But if you love reading, sign up for a monthly book club that meets in person. Feeling really ballsy? Start a group of your own!
- Be gentle with yourself. Our social norms have changed––so I'm sure you get a little more nervous in some social settings than you used to. You're not alone. It's because of the digital age we live in. So remember to go into social situations with some grace (for yourself and for others). You're not the only one who doesn't always know what to say or may say something a little awkward (I'm the queen of saying and doing weird crap. Ask my fiance and closet friends) JUST OWN IT! You will get more comfortable the more you do it. Promise.
I love you all. I appreciate each of you for using some your allotted screen time (wink wink) to read this. Now get out there and socialize! It's good for you.