Life isn’t viewed through our own two eyes anymore. We now let a smartphone be the first witness of things happening around us. We learn about other people’s lives, not by talking to, or observing them from a sun-drenched patio with a cool drink in front of us. Instead, we check out our friends’ Facebook pages and read their blogs. Direct communication seems a thing of the past.
I myself am all too guilty of using up internet space by blogging, using social media to talk to family and friends, mail, Skype, reading newspapers, playing Scrabble and whatnot. For the sake of it being easier to email than to talk on the phone – and having a few valid back-up reasons for doing so as talking on a phone makes me wince of eye and facial pain and needing to sleep when I feel I need to – I look at it from a different view also. Rather than intruding on someone’s life by them having to answer a phone call, people can reply by mail when or where it suits them best. Smartphones… they’re called ‘smart’ for good reasons.
Sure, we praise ourselves for living or growing up in a world of social networks, wireless internet and being able to see what happens on other planets. It gave me the life I am leading right now: being able to write when my eyes permit it, meeting fantastic people and simply being a happy creature. Sometimes, though, we miss a lot of real-life and/or interpersonal quality time because we’ve become too absorbed with intelligent, artificial technology.
Reading, writing, paying, playing, listening, watching… we often hide behind artificial technology, deliberately leaving out that interpersonal aspect of life. Often it feels like forced-upon-us technology also. Selfies are just one example of this. Instead of friends or family taking our pictures, people now pose and pout and take their own pictures.
It’s human nature to compare income, looks and other material or non-material things people have, and nowhere more so in our own lives. It’s easy for relationships to become frayed because people interpret your life from their own 2-D perspective on a laptop, smartphone or tablet, and not from shared, interpersonal communication or experiences. Perhaps active listening has become unintentional hearing. Feeling compassion every so often turns to judging.
Filters, just like smartphones, are used to try and capture a moment that suits the viewer, but not the reality of the person being viewed. In return, the person facing this can feel unheard, unappreciated and misunderstood. It’s not always about clean, technical, clinical facts, though, but about how it affects you personally, without filters. For example, in my view, pain is relative.
How so? Pain barriers rise and fall according to how you perceive it to be. An otherwise healthy person might have a migraine, and rate that an 8 or 9 out of 10 on a pain scale because they’ve never felt worse pain than that. To me, migraines used to be as painful as yours. Later on however, I found an even worse pain: trigeminal neuralgia, otherwise called ‘The Suicide Disease’ because of the intensity of the pain.
Trigeminal neuralgia can be a 9.5 if not 10 out of 10 on a pain scale. Just when I thought it couldn’t get any more painful, trigeminal pain made sure it did. However, suddenly the pain scale of my migraines dropped several points in comparison with trigeminal pains. This shows that what can be extremely painful to you, could now be a mere blip on my radar because pain or fatigue is hard to measure and because it’s viewed from our own experience, and therefore perspective.
Many times doctors ask you how high you rate your pain on a scale of 1 to 10, and use such scales and levels for an illness they try to define. In the eyes of your doctors, your pain levels might not be perceived as high or as low. Once again, life’s viewed not through our own eyes, but many times, through those of others.
Filters, unlike those used to brew a mean cup of coffee, are hard to break down. They are used everywhere we look and come in all sorts of varieties. Whether it’s a smartphone, Facebook page, pain scales in your doctor’s mind or someone else’s perspective, getting real is often hard to do. The test of this time will be how to be honest.
We used to be social animals, but these days we’re more and more leaning towards narcissism. We think or do as we please and when or where we feel like it. As a social experiment, we failed drastically. We took “social” out of our prerequisite to life, just not as Mark Zuckerberg intended.
© Willeke Van Eeckhoutte and Ireland, Multiple Sclerosis & Me, 2011-2014. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner are strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Willeke Van Eeckhoutte and Ireland, Multiple Sclerosis & Me with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.