SideWalk Ghosts / Interview186: “Everyone Should Be Dancing”

“A” allows me to photograph her bunions

The last place on earth you will find me is hanging out at a cyber café. The mere thought of vicarious activity in a room full of dissociated people is just a bit too disengaged for me.

Sure, technology is here to stay, and even I am happily embracing its reach and ability to throw messages to the masses.

And one would be living in a cocoon to say that the world of new media, streaming video and social portals has not irreversibly changed our social culture.

The planet gets smaller year by year, that’s a good thing, and again we need to give much credit to the ever-expanding technology that has allowed us all the resources to connect on a range as broad as our imaginations and tenacity will carry us.

“Yes!” I proclaim… The information stream is a good thing, and necessary in today’s racing and imploding society. This is a fact that I undeniably admit, Blogs, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and the immense list of URL’s brings us closer and provides us with whatever we are looking for at the click of a mouse of the touch of a screen.

But take heed my friends in not forgetting the peace of human interaction, or the feel of air rushing into your face.

With all good thing come’s a price, and why do I worry about the price we may be paying in overindulging in the instant gratification and vicarious friendships that this new world is offering us?

My answer is simple… the loss of who we are and a numbing of our senses towards the real world around us.

I would have never thought in a million years that I would be producing writings like this. Yet, I will not delude you that my thoughts are not from my heart, but in saying this, I must more fully credit the greater part of my writings to the stories that are graced to me each and every day as I reach out in my face-to-face quest through following my 365 self-challenge, “Chin up and eyes open to the world around me.”

So this evening as I commute past the local cyber hot spot, I find myself magnetized by a small group of people standing in front of it’s LED illuminated doors. And even though the cyber gaming world in not my bag, my subconscious self commands me to veer to the right and reset my course to engage with these cyber strangers.

Up I walk, and with the typical 365 hello I find myself deep in conversation with a group of three diverse friends. Friends who vary in age from 19 to 40’s; friends who all share one common mission, to oversee the safety of their neighbor, a young woman who is deeply fixated on the cyber experience within the walls of the café.

For the sake of time and condensed word count, I’ll focus on one of these three uniquely different, yet bonded individuals, and at her request for privacy, we’ll call her anonymous dancer (“A” for short). Per the other two, we have agreed to speak at a later date.

“A” is a wonder of imagination and culture, a woman who understands compassion and commitment to helping her fellow human.

She tells me of how she met one of the two friends she is talking with. “I met him when he was homeless, my car had broken down and he had helped me push it to my house. He looked tired and I offered him my car for a sleeping quarters. From there we became friends, I remember bringing him eggs in the mornings.”

The story has a bright ending, the once homeless man is now employed, has an apartment and obviously the friendship has blossomed.

“A” does not step foot in the cyber café, like I said… her presence this evening is that of a protector. The night is a little chilly, and I have no idea of how long she has been watching out for her young friend inside. That alone gives me insight into her perspective on how she respects the people in her community.

Our conversation is deep and ranges from concern to the events in the Middle East to the economy, to her history in the arts (a profession dancer who has performed on New York’s stage) and the concerns of what the cyber world is doing to our culture.

With an infectious energy she decrees, “Everyone should be dancing.”

In furthering her announcement, she lengthens its meaning. “We need to be walking the streets and meeting people, I see a time when, with the rising cost of fuel, more and more of us will be walking, Like in New York. That will be a good thing for society. To see each other eye to eye.”

Everyone should be dancing = everyone should be on their toes, not on their butts, glued to a vicarious life of backlit display.

We talk of not judging people at a surface level, and of the findings of 365.

“I like the way people are in New York, on the outside, it may seem that they don’t care, but on the inside they allow everyone to be who they are and they respect individuality.” “A” communicates.

I have to agree with her.

In her reference, we learn a lesson; she is not telling us that we have to be best friends with everyone. Not even that we have to associate with all. But she does charge us with this: Even if we are strangers, we can still give each other the same respects that we would expect to receive. Makes sense, non of us can say that all people truly know us at face value, so how can we place any label on others without justly knowing what is in their hearts and minds?

I’ve been chastened this evening, I can’t say that my views of the cyber café has been affected, but I can say this, it was wrong of me to make any assumptions as to the patrons of such an establishment. For if I had fully done so, and ignored my intuition to walk up this evening, I would have absolutely missed out on meeting a wonderful person.

“A”, thanks for your anonymous words!