“Hi, how are you?”
Believe it or not, this could considered to be an actual conversation. It may be short, but this is all the interaction some individuals need in order to feel like they’ve done their duty in acknowledging the existence of someone they may pass on the street or in the hallway.
What could that say about our society today?
To me, it seems like communication and real conversation has gone downhill lately for several reasons:
1. People may feel as if they’re going to get stuck listening to someone’s life story if they stop and ask them how they’re doing.
2. The other person may be unsure as to how much they should share and whether or not the other person really wants to hear about it.
3. Nearly everyone has some type of technological device that keeps them in constant contact with their family, friends, co-workers, etc… without actually having to talk with them face to face.
This kind of reminds me of the song “(Everybody’s Gotta) Song to Sing” by Group 1 Crew:
“Everybody’s got a song to sing, so won’t you come now and sing with me,
It doesn’t really matter where you’re from or what you’ve done.
Everybody’s got a story to tell, times we’ve tried and times we’ve failed,
So when you feel like hope is gone, keep holding on
This is your song.
Everybody’s got a story to tell.”
I love that! And it’s something that our culture has shoved to the wayside. Not many of us actually take the time to intentionally ask how someone is doing in order to find out how things are going in their life.
We all like to put on a face when it comes with interacting with other people. Technology helps a lot with that and people have gotten so used to hiding behind their cyber personality, that it’s hard for them to have a real, face-to-face conversation with someone.
While surfing the Internet on this fun site called StumbleUpon (you click the “Stumble” button and, according to the interests you selected in your profile, it takes you to random sites that you may be interested in), I came across a website called Humans of New York.
This site has a homepage full of portraits of people the photographer had met around New York City: old folk, toddlers in brightly colored outfits, men with six-inch gauges, women with full-sleeve tattoos… you name it, he’s probably met someone like that.
Each individual featured in their own photo and each photo has a quote from that person. Some of them are longer than others, yet even some of the shorter ones can be very profound and moving, such as:
“I’m afraid of sliding back to a place when I didn’t have the tools to be strong.”
“Sometimes, when I go home to see her, I think: ‘Nobody should be this happy on a Tuesday.'”
“When I was 20, I made a plan to get a good job and be secure. Now I’m 35 and I need a plan to be happy.”
“I’m trying to keep him away from all the negativity so that he has a fighting chance. There are so many cracks to fall through. But I already got his older brother to college.”
See what I mean? This is what you get when you take an interest in someone’s life. You discover that there is more to someone than what you first see.
You ever hear the saying “Never judge a book by its cover”? It applies to people too!
That creepy guy on the corner? He has a story to tell.
That group of young boys skating down the sidewalk and attempting tricks that they’re not quite ready to do yet? Each of them has a story to tell.
That shy girl you pass in the hallway every day at school and who everyone else seems to avoid because she seems odd? She has a story to tell.
That NFL football linebacker who seems to be living the dream? He has a story to tell.
As Group 1 Crew says,
“Yo, everybody has a story and it needs to be heard,
So let it play and resonate from the hood to the burbs,
Whether your sky is gray and you been through it all,
There is somebody on this earth that is singing the same song.”
Each person in this world is on a journey. A journey to find themselves, to discover who God is, who He wants them to be and a journey to find out what life has for them.
Each journey results in a unique story. We may go through similar trials and experiences, but each person has a different perspective on life which brings about a variety of results. No one experiences life in the same way and it’s interesting to hear how others see the world.
So take the time to be intentional about the questions you ask. When you say, “Hi, how are you?” try actually making eye contact and stopping to talk with the other person instead of rushing off to the next thing on your schedule.
Don’t pretend to be texting/talking on your phone in the hopes that the person walking past you won’t try to strike up a conversation.
Take the time to listen. I can tell you from my own experience that it’s a really awesome feeling knowing that someone cares enough to listen to what you have to say.
Like I said, everyone’s got a story that’s worth listening to 🙂
Oh, and if you’re interested in that Humans of New York site (it’s completely worth checking out!!), I recommend the first story I read: The Boxer. Check it!by