• Patrick McAndrew

We Must Open Our Doors to Dialogue


People are fascinating.  We can climb Mount Everest, we can sing beautifully, we can run super fast, and we can create the lives for ourselves which we desire.  We, indeed, have a lot of potential!


This isn’t to say that life is easy.  It can be hard; very hard, in fact, as we navigate bias, prejudice, and discrimination.  Some people, unfortunately, face this more often than others, perhaps making it more difficult to achieve the amazing things I’ve outlined above.  Needless to say, it’s inspiring to read or watch the stories of those individuals who have risen to the top and have accomplished their dreams.


Overall, I really enjoy people.  Sure, there may be some bad eggs out there, but I’m led to believe that people are inherently good.  Have you ever heard of an evil baby?  While kindness, empathy, good humor, and good morals can be taught, so can racism, homophobia, and other ugly characteristics that separate us rather than unite us.


While I do believe that most people are good people, I’m not convinced that human beings take priority in our lives.  We can probably count on one hand the times we’ve interrupted somebody when they are on their phones.  We likely did this a lot as a kid, shouting and screaming while our parents are trying to talk to a distant friend on the landline.  Though this is the case, we have long since lost count of the times that our conversations with a family member or a friend has been put on pause because of the adherence to our mobile devices.  I’m not keeping score, but it is an interesting thing to ponder.


Our phones are now our home-base, while the people we are spending time with IRL (in real life, IRL as the kids say) are secondary.  If our phone rings or buzzes, attention goes there first.  Forget our friend.  If we are bored, we retreat to our phones to look at photos, scroll through Facebook, or catch up on email.  Forget daydreaming or thinking up new and creative ideas.


We are a society that loves to point fingers instead of taking the blame.  We justify our anger by rationalizing the given circumstances.  We are quick to disregard each other if our opinions differ in the slightest.  How are we supposed to progress as a society if we aren’t willing to meet each other halfway?


I recently spoke at an event in New York City hosted by VulnerableWin, an organization created by Tessa Lena. As defined on their website, VulnerableWin is an “ambitious, non-glamorous, roll-up-your-sleeves initiative designed to create incremental changes in how we think about each other, how we communicate, and how we turn our vulnerability into strength and kindness.”  I spoke about my work with The Low Tech Trek and how we should discover more of a balance between our humanity and our technology use while improving our relationships with one another.  While there were people present like myself in the digital wellness sphere, we also had tech-enthusiasts sharing their experiences and thoughts.  It was a great discussion and a great opportunity for two opposing sides to come together and discuss important, societal issues around technology in a civil way.


There needs to be more of this.  Instead of talking with someone from a different walk of life, we retreat to our smartphones and endlessly complain about how awful things are.  There needs to be a willingness to have our doors open and talk about important issues in our world.  We have to stop writing each other off and start getting to know each other as human beings.


We are naturally lazy creatures and the rise in technological devices has only increased this laziness.  We don’t want to make much of an effort to dig deep and get to know someone who may be different from ourselves.  It is much easier to stay in our comfort zone so as to not risk anything.  We don’t want to be judged or criticized.  But it is that very fear that holds us back from getting anywhere.  Our smartphones serve as a forcefield around us that keeps us in our comfort zone.  It allows us to be safe, sure, but it prevents us from having deep and meaningful dialogue with our friends, our family, and with strangers.  We are all guilty of this, but I challenge you to take a step out of your comfort zone and learn something new; learn something that you thought you already knew.


Neale Donald Walsch has a great quote.  He states, “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.”  Put your phone down for awhile, interact with people face-to-face, and start living.

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© 2020 Patrick McAndrew