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We rush everywhere.  We need to stay connected all the time.  Not to each other, to the internet.  We text while we drive.  We browse Facebook all day.  We watch Netflix and chill. Why?  What is so important that we can’t set aside our phones, our tablets, our televisions for one moment?

Where is the connection to people?  To nature?

We think we’re connected, but all we do is live vicariously through photos and 140 character or less.  We don’t interact so much as we act.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m on the internet as much as the next guy, unless the next guy is my dad.  Then I’m on way more often.

But, I find myself wondering if living in the Matrix is better.  I mean, we can reach everyone with a single post and information is just a click away.  Yet, I can’t help wondering if we’ve lost something.  Not just the ability to go outside.

We all have personas we adopt when around certain people or in certain situations, but when do we ever take the mask off?  When is it safe?  Is it ever okay?  Can we just relax and not worry who will say or do something odd?  Can we just be ourselves regardless of who is around?

I once heard the phrase, “Live your life as though you live in a one room apartment and the blinds are always open”.  An interesting notion and quite scary.  After all, no one wants to expose their darkest secrets to the world…or even to their friends, sometimes.  Yet, we are always exposed to someone.  There’s always someone who will uncover what we’ve tried to hide.

Why not be yourself?  Why not let other people challenge you?  Challenge them.  The only way we grow is by learning new things.  We can’t understand what we truly believe without sifting through differing viewpoints.

So, take a break from the internet, put the phone down, and meet someone face to face.  Be real.  Listen.  Respond.

Two skills the world needs more of: listening and responding.  Too often, I think we hear and react.  We don’t take a beat to figure out where the other person is coming from or what their intention was.  We don’t sift for meaning unlike that critical reading examination everyone hated in Lit class.  We jump to conclusions or want to be heard.  Instead, we should seek to see beyond the obvious.  Filter out our bias.

If I want to grow, the first step must begin with me.