Have you ever seen someone in the grocery store who looked like he was looking for conversation more than looking for food to buy? Or have you been that girl who thought you’d wander the mall in hopes of striking a spark of human connection… just because you were lonely? I’m not talking about romantic pursuits; I’m talking about basic person-to-person engagement, something that used to be unavoidable and is now something that we cannot take for granted.
People used to sit on porches and talk to those who came by. They used to be neighborly towards, well, their neighbors because it was obvious who they were. People were known as part of a family. They had to deal the social hand that was dealt them because — really — what was the option?
Now with the ability to travel, the infinite options of mobility available to much of the world, and the increasing trend towards individualism as the standard of decision-making, people don’t have to be as connected. Of course we see this at the simplest level when we each have earbuds intact and are listening to personally curated playlists that we don’t have to share (or get to share). But it also has happened in ways that we don’t question, much like a fish doesn’t question that it lives in water. Some of us live in hermetically sealed homes that are disparately placed, constructed so as to keep your tribe in and others out. Gated communities, walls, fences, alarm systems, closed windows with air conditioners running, back yards to hang out in instead of front porches, mail delivered to the door and not to the street or post office (which necessitated a walk to connect)… these all contribute to the isolation factor. But most of all, cars and televisions hastened the trend towards far-flung, insulated nuclear families living apart from others, concerned primarily with their own family’s wellbeing.
There are isolated nuclear families, and there are isolated individuals. Nowadays more people live alone than at any time in history in America — almost 50 percent in Manhattan, close to 40 percent in many cities. Here’s a CBS News piece on that trend.
I’ve been thinking a lot about isolation, connection, family and community structures, big government and local movements, global problems and neighborly interactions. I think about this because I’m human, because I crave and value deep relationships, and because I want to be part of creating structures and solutions for problems beyond myself.
I created SPACIOUS because I so want to “love my neighbor as myself,” and I want to make that (relatively) easy for us all to do together. I’m only taking baby-steps in my journey in that. I’m going to be writing about this as I continue exploring it. I’m reading and thinking and talking to people. I’m seeing such a movement of others thinking about this question: “How, in an ever more complicated global climate with such huge problems at hand, do we forge connections that will sustain us and help us care for people, particularly the marginalized, as time marches on?”
I’d love to hear from others who are asking that question. I have so much to learn from you. Stay tuned, if you want to, to my musings and help me shape SPACIOUS to be an agent for change, for good, for connection.