An older woman with several shopping bags suddenly dropped two as she was making her way outside of the supermarket. She labored to balance the bags that did not fall while trying to bend down and pick up what had landed on the ground. During this struggle several people passed by her. Yet not one offered any assistance. Perhaps all of these people had urgent matters to attend to but this is a stark example of how the "me-first" mentality has saturated our communities.
Everywhere you turn today there is a strong desire for bettering ourselves: finding ways to experience life, self-care, diets, sleep aids… All for self-fulfillment. Add our current state of technological availability which allows for almost instant gratification from information, resources, and opportunities… our ability to meet our individual wants is at an all-time high! We are now enabled to project and absorb exactly what we believe we need: instantly communicate with our imaginary internet friends, purchase whatever product we suddenly desire, and get lost in our favorite books or show with the press of a button. Could this effort to be so “self” aware be detrimental, in any way, to the evolution of social interaction?
In our effort to be considerate of our "self", simple social skills are being abandoned. Do you sometimes dangerously speed because you are in a rush to get to your destination? When was the last time you held a 15 minute conversation without checking your phone? Are you guilty of forgetting to say "please" and "thank you" because you are mentally distracted? Have you ever ignored a friend's question because you allowed your mind to wander to something you forgot to do? Do you celebrate your "multi-tasking" ability so you can justify not giving someone your complete attention?
What about that time someone cut you off in traffic because HE was in a rush to get home? What about the person who parks in the handicap space simply because it was the closest available spot? Although usually unintentional, it is easy to get self-absorbed in our own immediate wants/needs and forget its effect on the people around us. Yet if we see someone else being self-absorbed or self-serving we throw around terms of selfishness or uncaring. We demand attention while our immediate needs are all-consuming. We are not able to maintain proper social relationships – either inside or outside of our homes.
For whatever goal we have for life, social interaction will always play a part. Although self-care is important for our personal life goals, the value of “other-care” is immeasurable. In a time where it is easy to get caught up in the demands of our daily lives, other-care has become an almost extinct custom. If we choose to stay focused on our own needs can we realistically expect others to care about us? What happens when we have no living network of friends or loved ones to celebrate our triumphs? How easy is it to handle a challenge when we cannot share with someone who understands us? What if our personal goals exceed consideration for the safety of others? What if your family chose to spend less time with you in order to do more on their own so they can practice “self-care”? Seems society is ready to call people “narcissists” for being self-absorbed while all the while encouraging us to be this way. It’s a mixed message we need to be able to decipher!
If this idea makes sense to you, what are some ways we can each practice other-care and make sure we are giving what we would like to receive?
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