IT Pilgrimage

A Journey From IT to Freedom

Commentary on Social Isolation

Posted by IT Pilgrim on June 7, 2008

When I got to work this morning, the only person I saw was the security guard sitting behind his bullet proof glass. I walk down to my desk, and sit in my little fabric box, where the only view is the ceiling tiles and the while walls. Most of the light comes from my computer’s monitor because people have turned off what little light there was in here and it is difficult to get it back on. Though I often feel like I am the last person on Earth, I am not alone.

Everyday around the country and most likely, around the world, there are hundreds, maybe thousands of us that live this way. This is the price we have brought on ourselves by creating our culture of intellectual workers. The only sounds you hear are the whirr of the air conditioner or heater, or maybe a distant conference call at another desk. You don’t know who that call belongs to, because you have never spoken to that other person, and most likely never will. Though the separation can be as little as 20 or 30 feet, it might as well be a million miles away.

This is your world, this 4 or 6 foot fabric box which you are discouraged from decorating. Sometimes people walk by, but you don’t know them. When you first move in, you try to introduce yourself to people, you try to get them to talk to you. After a few weeks of strange looks, you eventually just give up. Now they just walk on by and don’t even look up.

How, as a society did we become this disconnected from the world around us? No longer does the neighborhood watch out for each other, people often have never even met their neighbors. For all our advances, is the world fundamentally a better place for it?

We drive to work in our little glass and steel boxes, then sit in our fabric ones for a few hours, then repeat the journey again. We surf the web, we shop online, we chat and play video games, but let me ask this question … when was the last time you even said hello to someone? For all our technology, many of us feel more cut off from each other than we have at any other time in our history as a race.

So what do we do? Well, that part is easy. Next time the person 3 feet away from you IMs or emails you, get up. Its that easy, just get up and go talk to them. Walk around a little, and look up, stop hiding from each other. Say Hi to the people you pass, even if you have no idea who they are. Ask them their name, then go back to your desk and write down who they were and what they looked like. That way, tomorrow, when you see them again, you will remember. When you get home, walk over to your neighbor’s house and say hi to them as well.

Try it today! Really, what do you have to lose? I tried it, and I now know all 4 of the people in my building. The best part is, it didn’t even hurt 😉

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