You wake up in the morning. You make some coffee, read articles online, check out your Facebook feed. You get ready for work, get on the bus, you read the news. At work, you make small talk while making coffee, then sit by your laptop and work. You take a break, check out some websites, you send a funny video to your friend on Facebook.

Your colleague asks for your help with something, “not again you think, how annoying! They should be more independent”. You reluctantly tell them they can find help on this or that website, or that they could contact the helpdesk. You work some more, check out some websites, work some more, then eagerly pack your stuff and leave quickly, hopefully without any of your colleagues meeting you on the way out and stalling you..

You come home and meet your girlfriend. She asks “how was your day?” while making food. “Good, how about yours?” you answer. “Good” she replies and then you take your dinner to the living room, where you eat watching a sit-com. You finish eating, change into workout clothes and go to the gym. You put on your headphones and get on the treadmill. You’re listening to a friend’s playlist on Spotify. You finish lifting weights an hour later and go home.

On your way home, you send a message to your friend saying that his playlist was good. “Cool!”, he replies, “We should catch up soon!”. “Wanna play together on Thursday?” you ask. “Sure”, he answers. The date is booked. You come home, shower and crush into the couch. Your grilfriend’s reading. You turn the TV on and take your laptop. You end up watching Youtube videos.

It gets late and you get into bed. She kisses you goodnight and says “Don’t forget the dinner with my parents tomorrow ok?”. ”Ok” you answer and then you hesitate. “Hey..” you say, “I haven’t been doing so well lately”. “Oh!” She answers surprised. “Do you feel sick?”. “No… maybe a little depressed…” you say. “Has it been long?” she asks. “Maybe, I don’t know”. “I think you should go to a psychologist,” she tells you. “Yeah, that’s a good idea, thanks” you say. She smiles, kisses you goodnight again and turns the light off.

And that’s how we tend to live today. With more or less, no form of meaningful conversations or interactions in our everyday lives. And it’s a shame. Some of the most beautiful and most transformative moments in my life, took place, not only in the presence of others, but were also inspired by others, friends, family, teachers, colleagues, my man.

Why are we progressively getting more and more obsessed with doing as much as possible alone and talking to each other as little as possible? We come alone and we go alone. Why do we have to live alone? Why is communication becoming a nuisance rather than an opportunity for exchange of ideas, inspiration, mentoring or good old cheering up? Are we losing our humanity?

In your typical western world company model, the tendency is to be kind towards the costumers, but not as much to each other. The ideal employee today is independent, self-sufficient, solution oriented, understands everything from day number one and does not make mistakes. The ideal employee doesn’t need guidance. Should the employee have any questions, the employee can refer themselves to books, courses, google, technical support or online chats, but only as a last resort to their leader or manager.

Acquisition of knowledge is a personal responsibility and important to professional and any other type of growth, I agree with that. The role however of a leader, is to offer mentoring, teach, inspire and make the employee feel secure and included in the working environment. That is achieved, through personal contact and communication, not through e-mails.

Something similar happens in friendships and personal relationships. We seem to be more comfortable with doing things together, or exchanging information and facts with each other, rather than exchanging thoughts, ideas or feelings. We relate more and more, on a superficial level. We don’t share our difficulties or our dark thoughts, because we don’t want to burden anyone, or because no one else does. Our joy is reserved for our friends, our sorrow for the psychologist.

At the same time, we are losing the skills of conflict resolution, as we opt for avoidance instead. We can’t handle to disagree anymore, we don’t know how to do it. Not saying anything and withdrawing, seems like a safer choice and we’re thus becoming experts at ending relationships instead of fighting for them.

Being independent is very important and a necessary goal to work towards. I wonder though, if we are independence oriented, or increasingly intolerant towards insecurity, uncertainty, vulnerability and towards our very own human nature. And I wonder if we can claim to have an “inclusive” society, if we are only referring to ethnic background or religion, but not different human needs, traits or character.

I’d like to thank everyone who’s been a good, teacher, colleague, mentor and friend to me. The people who have taken the time to talk to me, share their thoughts and views, inspire me to learn and grow. The people who have been kind to me, not just polite. I’m lucky to have had and still have, many of those in my life. I can only hope to be that person for others, as I strongly believe we are better together, than we are alone.

Published by Eleni Riga-Johansen