There was a time when we could look each other in the eye and ask what’s wrong. I grew up in Nairobi, Kenya in the 80s and early 90s, and though not long ago, one walked, bused or drove to see another – it was much faster than trying to connect on the landline. In those days too, we much preferred the face-to-face contact. Old and young gladly took the risk – leaving home to visit another, even though there was a chance s/he may not be home or able to receive guests. It didn’t matter what one did in life, these values were part of it.
Now, parents don’t understand their children, and the latter respect their parents from a distance. Siblings are strangers and couples are media conversationalists. We tell each other how we feel via long,unadulterated emails, and hide behind single-worded texts and social media status outbursts. We all gather in the room with heads bent to our various instruments or look up to glue our eyes to the TV.
A year, two and three go by, and what we tragically learn at the end of various relationships, is that we know nothing of each other. At the end, we reveal only our ignorance and jaded perceptions with the words from our mouths – and decide it’s better to crawl back into our worlds, where we control what we say, read and hear – where humanity can be that wall we built to keep our’s out.
So Facebook and Twitter became life, and replaced the loves of our lives – even the small pleasure of cooking a meal or riding a bike – why bother when we can sit hunched over our tablet in dim light. The person sitting next to us longing for our words to reach his/her ears, unseen because we are too busy typing away to those online.
It became easier to scroll through posts, times and pages to know how our loved one feels because s/he won’t tell us. It became the norm to express our feelings on the internet because we are alone when we need to express ourselves. It became life to speak to each other through the media that allows us the comfort of our own space, liberty to pick and choose what we like, and the sin of becoming gods of our lives – neglecting to care the impact on others.
We say we are intellectually mature and aware creatures, in tune with the world and its going-ons. We claim we are minding our business – yet – like Adam and Eve a lifetime ago, we fall into the lie that creates islands out of man, create the separation between us and God while we accept the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge in exchange for the one from the Tree of Life.