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Slowing Down

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As a society, with the increase of innovation in technology, we are rapidly shifting towards a liquid modernity. In such a world, every aspect is sped up. We find ourselves constantly looking for achievements and productivity in a day that we needlessly pack our schedules past working capacity. We pass by hundreds of strangers daily, whether through social media like Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, or in person. Communications have been so highly enhanced in just the last decade that we can all essentially have a conversation anywhere and anytime we want. Yet in such a sleepless world filled with connection and production, why is nobody as happy?

We start off with an endless desire. In 1943, a man by the name of Abraham Maslow came up with a psychology paper by the name of “A Theory of Human Motivation” that is widely known today. He believed that humans were driven by a wanting of constant betterment, a scale with an infinite range. In today’s society, our fundamental needs are definitely met, from food to water to the knowledge that we are relatively safe. Our lives are stable, and most of us have friends and family to go back to.

Yet in this fast-paced world, one criterion we are severely lacking is the depth of our relationships. The third level of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is love and belonging. In the past, when communication and instant connection to the world wasn’t at the touch of our fingers, there existed a necessity for individuals to make face to face contact with others to form a relationship. Handshakes, hugs, and physical embracement was necessary to form trust and a deeper understanding of a person. Lives were simpler and more mundane, yet social factors like divorce rates, reports of abuse, and psychological problems were much lower as well. It is true that the final level of Maslow’s pyramid — self-actualization — is often not achieved due to limited opportunities and resources. However, these people of the past still left riveting stories and astonishing legacies. From replicas of old movies to photos and documentaries, we can see that those people also had the ability to fulfil a purpose that ran much deeper than themselves due to the genuineness of their relationships.

In comparison to the present, we now swipe right if we want to meet with a stranger, and use instant messaging/texts to carry on our conversations. Often, we tend not to know the true nature of most our internet “friends.” Left and right are articles on stalking issues, sexual harassment, and kidnappings. The respect we once had for both ourselves and others are diminishing. With the growing popularity of instant delivery, from industry products to our local groceries, there is a lesser need for social interaction and societal integration.

We tend to more so associate relationships with superficiality as well. The concept of “fake friends” have only become a widespread theme in the 21st century, where a surprising amount of distrust and passive aggressiveness takes place between two people who supposedly have an irreplaceable thing called friendship. Yet these days, we continue to progress and desire more, and leave behind everything that either doesn’t progress with us, or is inconvenient for us. As a result, once meaningful words like “family” and “friend” lose much of their sentimental value.

But we can change this. Often, clichés are deemed overrated and passed off, but it is true that the simpler things in life are the most precious. Take time off your day to just take a stroll with some friends and talk about how things have been. Enjoy a little bit of the wonderful sceneries we take far too much for granted, because life is a beautiful thing. We are all constantly running to catch up in life, but we must recognize that we are running on a treadmill. It is beyond human capacity to always keep up. Sometimes, it’s better to pause, take a break, and dedicate our time to the smaller aspects of our lives that makes us smile. If in the long run we’re all dead, isn’t self-happiness all that matters anyways?

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1 Comment

One Response to “Slowing Down”

  1. Sharon on September 26th, 2017 9:18 am

    I believe in slow travel – spending time in a cafe (like I am now!) or sitting outside with a croissant, and it feels like these things are par for the course when you’re abroad or on vacation. So much harder to do when you’re surrounded by the rat-race. I’m in Lithuania at the moment and am having an easy time of the slow pace. Met a beautiful couple from Portland who moved into the burbs just to make sure they could live as slowly as they want – but they’ve also got the wisdom of many many years in the medical rat-race to convince them.

    My question is this: how do we convince people that slow isn’t just for travel and retirement? How do we prioritize connection and calm in the every day?

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