Human By Design
Observations by ecodecoarora
I love the sound of silence. In particular, how the palpable but pleasurable weight of near-nothingness gives me an immediate sense of calm. But when I am in the bustle and noise of the city it is rare for me to experience it anywhere except possibly when I find myself in an elevator. Small talk, however, can easily interfere and replace this quiet time in a shared communal space by that one person who frankly may not be able to hold back. While most of us increasingly take to looking down at our personal mobile screens, what is it about relative silence in an elevator that can prompt someone to comment, say, on the weather?
This has happened to me a lot. It is a miserable topic of discussion most of the year and, besides, there is not anything anyone can do about it. So why bother to justify it with an attempt at chatter? In our 24/7 age of social media and sound bite storytelling, there are other things to exchange with fellow souls in those few moments going up, down or simply waiting between floors. If a person feels compelled to alleviate the feeling of dread of being locked-in with a stranger, neighbour or peer (of the opposite or same gender) then why not shake it up a bit. Why not comment about crazy current events, world religions or even relationships? Or tell a good joke? After all, humour is contagious and a laugh can have a pleasant net effect while taking us away momentarily from our daily grind.
Come to think of it, can we have a high degree of certainty that talking about the weather is indeed a neutral topic? I think it is safe to assume that more people prefer sunshine and warm days that tend to embellish our personalities than those dark, cold days that can expose our temperamental tendencies. Seasonal changes in temperature are known to affect greatly our moods, desires and energy levels. With all these residual effects, it is probably best to be mindful about chatting up someone in the elevator with whom there is no real connection but simply an urge to say something whereas, alternatively, choosing to react could place you in an awkward, unsought situation. Rain, snow or shine, we will just have to deal with it, as it happens.
By the same token, although I personally find exchanging about the weather really boring, I do not mind sometimes gently rattling the equilibrium of another passenger who has stepped into this small room with me. We are too connected to technology in a way that is desensitizing our ability to communicate humanly, face-to-face, with a smile, and a voice. Imagine what good things could happen if everyone reading this, for instance, made a concerted effort the next time they find themselves sharing an elevator, to also share some humanity by saying good morning or good afternoon or asking about a person’s day. I bet the receiver and the sender would feel enlightened — in real time, in real life…