I shouldn’t have to explain myself, but you do

Fridays sometimes get a little personal because I don’t have class and usually hang around the apartment and do catching up on reddit (just as a reminder that other people are doing human things and feeling emotions elsewhere in the world).

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It kind of renews my faith in strangers.

This is coming after a long night of wondering why strangers seem so much more real and accessable and willing to open up than half the people that we surround ourselves with. I saw this crazy 17-minute documentary set entirely on a teenager’s computer screen a couple weeks ago and there’s a scene in which the main character is lonely and sorting through penises and other weirdos on chatroulette. He has a really meaningful conversation with this woman, and she says that the only real, true conversations that we can have are with strangers.

Last night, I was spending a usual Thursday night drinking with my friends I met Freshman year. I got involved in a conversation on my phone because I was genuinely trying to be nice and honest, but my friend was completely taking everything I said the wrong way and I felt the need to justify things. Which is stupid, right? Like, I’m hanging out with my friends and here I am having a text conversation about something that clearly isn’t going to be resolved.

I’m normally not the type of person to do that. Everyone can name 5 people who consistently have their phones out during a conversation, during dinner, during class, etc etc…how many times have you been having a really serious conversation, and the other person blatantly starts typing a text message? This video perfectly encapsulates it if you really don’t know what the last couple years have been like. Screenshot of said video is below.

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So this got me thinking, I really need to explain myself so that you’ll all understand. Strangers.

I will never be able to get rid of the phone in my hand, because it’s in my brain.

1. I forget things, and usually really important things. When I say ‘I forgot,’ I seriously forgot. I’m not trying to be sarcastic. I forgot to make a deadline for Teach for America, as well as a doctor’s appointment a couple weeks ago.

2. I’m also not stupid, so if I try to come up with something to say but can’t organize my thoughts, let it go.

3. I want to do better and to be better, but even when I try my hardest, I sometimes can’t. I get caught up on things that are little and insignificant and it prevents me from challenging myself.

And that’s it. Now let’s backtrack for a second and pretend that I’m not talking about myself and the fact that I have ADHD. Start at number one and try and realize that you have absolute control over numbers 1-3, but an obsession with constantly being online, talking to people who aren’t present, knowing exactly what’s happening in the world at every moment–it’s led you to identify with these statements. You’re distracted, you forget, you can’t accomplish things–it’s going to ruin you.

If I could never take medication again and still be able to listen to someone talking to me, without making up a response to cover up that I was just pretending to listen, I would do it in a heartbeat. The look of defeat on someone’s face when they’ve put together that you don’t care enough to listen, or that you forgot about something important, or that you could be doing so much better than you are–you know that look, right? When you’ve been typing away while a good friend tells you about a really awesome job offer, and you say “wow that’s cool,” completely unenthusiastically, because you weren’t really listening. That’s the look.

I can’t avoid that look. You can.

Put down your phone. Stop checking Facebook/Twitter every 5 seconds. You don’t need to access your email instantaneously.

You know what, actually, keep doing it.

Then all of our friends will finally be strangers, and all of us will be able to be honest with each other at last.

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