Picture the world with bright vibrant colours. The sky it’s brightest blue and the leaves on tree’s multi-coloured reds greens and browns through the autumnal season. Imagine walking down the country path kicking the leaves as you pass, throwing them up into the air and tumble gently down. The sound of the birds in the distant tree’s calling out for their friends to play swiftly in the cool breeze. Branches snapping beneath your feet as you walk through the muddy puddles of the bumpy pathway.
A warming feeling passes through you as the rays of sun shine down onto your skin. Then you have a sudden realisation that you are alone, that you have just walked through the countryside on your own without friends or company, and not even a dog.
Just you – alone.
The thoughts start flying through your head as to why you have made this journey on your own without asking a friend to join you. Maybe your friend has a family and you don’t want to disturb their family time as that must be more important to them. You don’t like to force yourself on to other people’s lives, as they have their own things to be doing – not dragging you around like a spare wheel.
You come up with ideas of things that you want to do in your spare time, though they either need two people or you don’t have to confidence to go alone. Joining the gym on your lonesome, you’ve not got the confidence to run on a treadmill on your own as you think you’ll look an idiot. You need a friend to do that with you, so the two of you look like twerps together.
Then you find yourself filling your time with work activities instead of going away and treating yourself to something you would enjoy, like a trip to the seaside or a spa day. Again, because you don’t want to ask your friends to disrupt their family life but because you start to believe that you don’t deserve to be treated.
You book slots into your schedule of meetings or work trips and they constitute as your time away, your holiday. Even though you’re working you can tell yourself that you have been away somewhere new, somewhere nice. You meet new people that have the same interests as you and you start to build connections and network around this new found interest. You communicate with them over Facebook, Twitter or find yourself joining a new site to meet and talk professionally.
It is these conversations that you start to look forward to when you return to an empty home. The lights are always off and the flat is always cold, you never have dinner prepared for you and you long to have someone real to talk to about the day’s events. It takes time for the dull energy saving light bulbs to warm up, for the heating to kick in and for dinner to be thought about and then cooked.
That’s your night planned, alone curled up on the settee waiting for some stimulating conversation to occur, either on the PC, laptop of iPhone – which obviously all three are required just in case someone really desperately needs to contact you about something, anything, the tiniest little thing where you feel as though you are needed, loved and wanted.
Even if it is to ask what time a lecture is on at college, you are needed. Or if it is to follow a twitter feed about a TV show you are watching, you feel as though you are among likeminded people and that you fit within a community.
It is these deceptions of the wonderful internet that make you feel part of life with a purpose. Though it is these very same things that take you away from reality and stop you from being able to have a normal real life conversation with the person next to you. You don’t know how to do that anymore do you? How do you start a conversation? What is small talk? What happens when you have a deep and meaningful conversation about something that is very important to you or the other person – one where you have to think on the spot?
We have forgotten what it is like to have human contact or to talk without the interruptions of technology to the extent that if we were to lose the internet we would be lost. We would automatically feel back in the Stone Age where they didn’t have the little luxuries of soap, food on demand and comfortable beds to sleep in.
So what do we need to do to change this? I know what I have started to do – turn the internet off my iPhone at weekends. I call it my blackout. I have realised that I can have conversations with people, though still through the means of a telephone call, but I’m talking and not texting or tweeting.
I am starting to realise that all the work activities filling up my diary and constant use of the internet is masking the fact that I am lonely. I do want to share my life with someone and I deserve this simple fact of life. Baby steps are what I need and baby steps are what I’ll do.