We’re far from the first to note that “all the world’s a stage,” but we can’t resist bringing attention to the present convergence of social media with entertainment. It seems as if everyone’s attention is glued to their smartphones lately; we’ve often watched couples sitting together at a table over drinks staring at their screens instead of talking to each other. We’ve elevated the art of gossip to a stratospheric level never before imagined.
The stream of political news is now dominated by Tweets and Posts, and the lives of individuals have become fodder for endless daily drama filled with selfies, taunts, insults, birthday greetings, restaurant plates, and other minutiae of daily life. Shakespeare had no idea just how right he was, we suspect.
Ironically, the craving for real human contact and communication is growing. Studies indicate that loneliness and depression are on the rise, not just in elderly folks, but younger folks as well. The social media revolution, it appears, creates the illusion of connection but is no substitute for real intimacy. On the contrary, screen-time addiction is an indicator of loneliness.
Consultants are now pitching classes on “the art of conversation,” teaching people to actually pay attention to what others are saying, listen deeply, and respond in ways that acknowledge one another. So much of what passes for dialogue today is actually opinion and argument, rather than an effort to understand the feelings and thoughts of others. We can’t help but feel that the trends in broadcast and social media have contributed to people’s inclination to “talk past” each other.
Luckily, there remains a variety of ways people in Sonoma Valley can connect with each other, and by all accounts, they are. The Farmers Market is in full swing on Tuesday nights, and seems to be as wildly popular as ever. There’s nothing like free music and good food to bring people together, and the number of picnic blankets attests to it. Our local theater scene is thriving, too, providing musical and dramatic fare in locations where smartphones, gratefully, are turned off for a few hours.
The bike path and hillside trails seem to be attracting more walkers, bicyclists, and hikers now that the weather is beautiful, and those walking together are often talking. People actually talking with each other. Imagine that!
These are all examples of why living in Sonoma Valley remains an opportunity. Big cities are exciting and offer many entertaining options, but their hustle and bustle, noisiness, big crowds, and street traffic make human interaction challenging. Not so here, where our more rural pace of life is slower and more manageable, quieter and more peaceful.
We all have our part to play in the theater of life, and so we urge you to turn off your smartphone and appreciate the “stage” of Sonoma Valley.
— The Sun Editorial Board