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Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Forwarded Junk on Messenger and the Human Need to Connect

Who else is overwhelmed by the amount of forwarded junk on Messenger? 
Ping! Ping! Pingpingpingpingbleepingping!
For the first time since iPhones I now turned off the sound notifications in Messenger. In states of post-traumatic hyperarousal I jump with every ping I hear, and lately they became too often, beyond what I could handle and stay sane.
To me Messenger is for private messages, private and personal, and the ping has been useful with time sensitive texts, like "I'm out at your door, the intercom is not working, please let me in" or "There's a new link for our zoom meeting in five minutes, and here it is". When I hear a ping, I hear urgency. Not a chain letter, virtual hug, a Coronavirus update in my native language, or a meme. Urgent.
People's need to connect is more stringent now than ever, and forwarding stuff on Messenger (or WhatsApp) creates an instantaneous illusion of connection.
But it's not what connects. 
People who barely know each other, if at all, send each other stuff that they find remotely interesting, or scary and therefore compelling, or cute, without even knowing each other's interests, tastes, and preferences. This doesn't connect: at best it amuses, at worst it annoys. The social distancing measures only add to an already existing problem: the human disconnect. And the disconnect is not because of a virus or a decree of law: it's because the humans' clumsiness in relating to each other.
Connections are formed when people speak to each other in their own words, not when they quote somebody else's regurgitated ideas. First talk to the people you know and send them what you know that they like, not what you think that they should like because you like it. If you don't know someone, ask them questions about themselves and tell them what you want them to know about you. Go have a conversation - with dialogue -, disclose yourself and inquire into the other: You can only love what you know, and nobody gets to know anything about anybody through forwarded memes, quotes, and video clips. 
Now copy and paste this in your Messenger and send it to anyone who forwards you junk 

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