Running Wild, Together from the Dark

Spring has sprung, Dark Dreamers,

We cannot deny that we, as humans, are social creatures. Even the most introverted of us still needs some human interaction. Children, who receive food and shelter, but not interactions and touch, falter. Very few successful books could maintain a reader’s interest with only one character. Even The Martian by Andy Weir, which came very close, worked hard to get communication back up as he was going a bit peculiar without it. In pieces like this and Castaway, the character discarded from the rest of the social race, must find ways to mimic social interactions, i.e. the communication logs and Wilson the friendly volleyball. There is only so far the socially interdependent species of human can go alone.

molten

Molten, Wilson’s long lost girlfriend.

Yet, one of my students brought up the concept in my communications class last week that she fears we’re losing our ability to actually interact one with another. She spoke of seeing her friends desperate to look at the screen if someone appeared to approach them so they wouldn’t have to speak to them. She confessed that as much as she hates seeing it, she does it too. Her words reminded me of this quote from Vincent Nichols, “We’re losing social skills, the human interaction skills, how to read a person’s mood, to read their body language, how to be patient until the moment is right to make or press a point. Too much exclusive use of electronic information dehumanizes what is a very, very important part of community life and living together.”

We see it all the time. Families out to eat, staring at their screens. Parents at kid’s games posting and watching their phones rather than the game. I have even seen students walking on campus walk straight into a pole or another student due to their attention being diverted down. But we can’t just blame “those damn kids”. It is a multi-generational change.

But now it is spring, a time of change and growth, even for us dark urban fantasy writers who wallow in writing about blood and monsters and all things violent. This is a chance for us to seek out more interactions as the weather itself is no longer driving us indoors as it did all winter. We should seek ways to make the everyday activities a better way to connect with others. And before you ask, yes, Dreamers, I’m holding myself to the same standard. I have fallen out of my running habit, and I can feel it. So, I have started on the daily running challenges again, only this time, I’m not doing it alone. No hiding behind my earbuds and drowning the world out. Nope. This time my husband and son and dog are joining me for the runs. We’re training together and making it a family bonding moment each day. We’ve already run twice as a group, and I can feel the difference of having others there.

DSC_0365

The wild running Sloans

The same is true for our characters. For me, characters should not be so perfect that they do everything on their own. I love a character who overcomes the antagonist by giving it everything they’ve got and being backed by the relationships they’ve cultivated. Luke would have been a failure without Han and Chewie and Leia. Harry would never have even seen the stone without Ron and Hermine. Being an old school gamer, my most successful character was not the one with the best stats. No, she was the weakest fighter in the game, crippled, but she made friends with everyone she met. When the bad guys came for her, they had an army to make their way through to even try. That’s our social groups. They are our cheerleaders, our cattle prods and our counselors all tied up with a pretty bow.

So, this concept of the changing of social interaction is a hot button with many people. What do you think? Are we as a society losing our ability to communicate effectively one with another?

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About Courtney Sloan

A New Orleans native, Courtney Sloan relocated to the hills of Central Maryland after Hurricane Katrina. There she lives with her husband and fellow author, J.P. Sloan, their son and their crazy German Shepherd pup. Adding to her writing life, Courtney is also a professor at the local college and enjoys learning a world of new ideas from her students as she teaches them about writing and communicating. Courtney’s New Orleans upbringing has left her with a love for the macabre and a flare for the next to normal. She writes speculative fiction with a variety of horror and sass mixed in for flavor. She loves taking the world of politics that haunts us now, and adding the supernatural to create a gumbo of thrills to keep you up at night. A self-proclaimed lover of way too many fandoms, Courtney also loves crafting. From blankets to jams to stories, it’s always better homemade. View all posts by Courtney Sloan

8 responses to “Running Wild, Together from the Dark

  • Lisa

    I think it is becoming harder to communicate with others because of the constant use of technology. I not only think it is effecting this generation but also the future generation (the little children). It is bad now but is going to get worse. My cousin who is 2 is always on some type of technology. He has such a hard time communicating. My sister and I babysat for him and we wanted to play ball. All he did was reach for our phones.

  • Rita

    I so agree with everything you said! Nothing as important as staying connected with each other, looking in each others eyes enjoying friends and family. As wonderful and useful our computers, iPads and iPhones are, looking in each other’s eyes and sharing thought and love, is irreplaceable , so we have to make sure to teach and share it with our children. Thank you for your wonderful article!

  • abetterfeelingthought

    The short answer is sadly, yes. This disconnect we’ve allowed to happen through technology isn’t the natural way human beings communicate, and it’s generating a great unrest in our collective psyche.We crave interaction. We depend on it to survive. I hope more and more people wake up, reach out and connect with their fellow human beings…united we stand ~ divided we fall!

    • Courtney Sloan

      You are right. The more we separate, the easier it is to tear each other down for small slights. Polarization has never been a good thing and disconnection allows us to polarize further, rather than coming together and discussing the issues we need to. Viva la revolution.

  • Amanda Stover

    I definitely agree that we lack the ability to communicate with others. I work in customer service and it gives me a first hand encounter of the issue. Many customers are so into their phones, while talking to me. There is also many that say little to nothing to me and no please or thank you and I find it so rude!

    • Courtney Sloan

      I’ve seen this too. What really gets me is how surprised those in the service industry are surprised when I say “please” “thank you” or address them by name. That really shouldn’t be a surprise, should it?

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