In this modern age of social media, it is easier than ever to make online connections with people. You don’t have to know someone well – or at all, sometimes – to access their profiles and glean a sense of who that person is, and what their life is like. Before social media, networking and living in a community were different. People had to get to know each other face to face and gossip by word of mouth. In today’s world with so much technology at our fingertips, it would seem that it would be easy to tell who is relevant to your life and who is not. There are plenty of daily interactions with people who seem like (and probably are) perfect strangers – why bother putting anything extra into those interactions? It is, of course, basic human courtesy to treat everyone you meet with dignity and respect, but in our modern bustle, we don’t always remember this. In the bestselling collection of essays, All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten, author Robert Fulghum summed up our interconnections like this:
“Without realizing it, we fill important places in each other’s lives. It’s that way with the guy at the corner grocery, the mechanic at the local garage, the family doctor, teachers, neighbors, coworkers. Good people who are always “there,” who can be relied upon in small, important ways…. And, of course, we fill that role ourselves. There are those who depend on us, watch us, learn from us, take from us. And we never know.”
You may never realize who your neighbor is if you assume they are not worth paying attention to. In addition to carefully curating your list of LinkedIn connections or Facebook friends, pay attention to the real people down the street. Consider making an authentic connection with a person, not just a profile.