Fear is other people?

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‘Why don’t people just talk to each other anymore?  You know.  Why don’t they just talk?  Like hello.’

This was the repeated refrain from a lady, who I think had had one too many, and was trying to engage her fellow bus passengers in conversation.  Now, while she may have been a tad tipsy, I sat there listening and thought, she’s right; why don’t people talk to one another anymore?

I was at the front of the bus, so couldn’t see the lady concerned, nor our fellow passengers, but I suspect that the vast majority had their eyes firmly fixed on their phones and their ears plugged into whatever music they were listening to.  It’s the same situation at the gym, which I was on my way from after a swim; people don’t talk there either.  Instead they walk around, encased in their own MP3 world, which may keep them focused during their workout, but doesn’t keep them open to interaction with those around them.

I’ve stopped using the actual gym area unless I have to because I prefer to swim, and find that I don’t mind the social isolation so much there as swimming for me acts as a kind of moving meditation.  However, I have noticed that in the two Jacuzzis at the end of the pool, people chat.  Why?  Because they’re not closed off by technology.

So as I listened to the lady on the bus this evening, I began to think that we’ve become fearful of one another.  Afraid of those we don’t know; and that’s why we don’t make conversation with strangers anymore.  We don’t trust them.  I wonder where this has come from, and is it just technology?  Maybe it’s because of overpopulation, and people move around a lot for work and so the old connections are no longer maintained.  What about the media?  Is that to blame for our mistrust by filling our heads with stories of assault, rape and murder every day in the news?

Yet this fear is what possibly keeps us alone too.  So many people now, in all age groups, are single and seemingly unable to find a life partner.  Why is this?  What has gone wrong in society that we have such a hard time trying to connect?  It is easy to blame technology, and too simplistic.  It can’t be one factor alone; and technological developments have also greatly enhanced our lives too.

I guess I don’t have the answer here.  However, when thinking of fear, it reminds me of Eowyn’s response when Aragorn asks her what she fears;

‘A cage.  To stay behind bars until use and old age accept them, and all chance of valour has gone beyond recall or desire.’

I think our fear of others has caused us to build our own cages, from which we now cannot escape.

(This post is a combination of day 12, write a post based on a real world conversation, and day 17, for which the topic was fear, of Writing 101, although I certainly haven’t met the task requirements entirely.)

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