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I believe that people have a talk quota, with some having larger quotas than others.

I am not a talker. I don’t mind talking; I just don’t have much of a quota to fill. I know how to start and maintain a conversation and can work a room if needed. My wife even says I’m a ‘charmer,’ which I think is impossible. However, my small talk requirement often leaves me ready to bail out the back door if I am forced to say one more word.

On the other hand, my wife is a ‘social bug’; not a butterfly but a bug. She thrives on talking and has a social need that she must get out of her system. Lucky for her, I am a good listener and am perfectly willing to let her talk my ear off. I am only obligated to say ‘oh,’ ‘ah,’ or ‘really?’ in the appropriate places. I do have to listen to her, though – I’ve learned that lesson – because there will be a quiz!

My oldest daughter is much like my wife. As a teenager, I compared her to a shark: ‘if she stopped talking, she would suffocate.’ She never saw the humor in that.

Our talk quotas appear to carry over into social media, where we have replaced talking with other things: TikTok, Facetime, Twitter, Insta-whatever, etc. Watching a TikTok from a celebrity that will never know you exist apparently counts as being friends now. It may not be talking in the old definition of the word, but some social currency is exchanged. I’m willing to admit that. It’s not the usual one-for-one relationship, more of a one-for-.000001, but it still counts and ticks the necessary buttons on someone’s social quota.

Photo by fauxels on Pexels.com

The average person in 2022 is connected socially to more people than has ever been possible. Yet, because of the digital distance, I think we are lonelier for it. When was the last time you had a long conversation with anyone other than your spouse or sibling? I can’t remember…

I am afraid that our social skills are becoming as fleeting as a Tweet: a couple of words and we scroll past.

Technology is making us lonelier and less social, not more.

Heck, people even spend most of their time at a concert watching it through their phones! The singer is RIGHT IN FRONT OF THEM, and they are watching through their phone! But…. that is a rant for another day.

The point:  We all have a social quota, large or small, that I believe can only truly be met by interacting one-on-one with other living humans. So, put your phone down and talk to someone. We don’t bite… usually.

  • Says the man that hates to leave the house!!

I am a Minnesota boy but after college and a divorce, I found myself in Nebraska. There I met and married a wonderful local woman and went on living for the next twelve years or so. I still considered Minnesota home, but hadn’t been back in over twenty years. Therefore Nebraska became home.

Five years ago we relocated to St Louis for a job opportunity. We love it here and now think of this as home. However, last weekend we returned to small-town Nebraska to attend a wedding. The youngest daughter of one of her oldest friends was getting married. We jumped at the chance to get all of her friends together; most of whom we hadn’t seen in years.

We drove my little VW Beetle the seven hours it took to get there. We don’t mind long drives and enjoy seeing the country. However, as we crossed into Nebraska we sensed a change in the atmosphere. It felt as if a dark cloud was materializing above us. We could feel the oppression building. Our mood deteriorated the closer we got to ‘home’. There was a Children of the Corn vibe going on with a little Cujo skin-prickle added.

Subconsciously, we were both dreading going back there. The old hometown had turned dark and depressing while we were gong. One of us finally mentioned the change in mood and we immediately agreed that there was something to it. Our exciting and enjoyable occasion was instead full of dread and foreboding.

We realized that we had too much baggage in that town. We had each lived there for years before meeting, so it was littered with old relationships and old memories that had nothing at all to do with our new life. The whole trip felt like wading into murky bath water. We felt dirty afterward. There are too many things there that we don’t want to remember or relive. It is much easier to forget those things if we never revisit them.

We had a great time seeing old friends and will not be returning any time soon. We may have left friends but we didn’t leave home. Home is where the heart is and wants to be.