"Our culture has bred consumers and addicts. We eat too much, buy too much, and want too much. We set ourselves on the fruitless mission of filling the gaping hole within us with material things. Blindly, we consume more and more, believing we are hungry for more food, status, or money, yet really we are hungry for connection." - Vironika Tugaleva
We live in a culture of "more." We encounter examples of this every day. When we go to the grocery store, we have ten different kinds of mayonnaise to choose from. We can binge watch hundreds of shows on Netflix and record multiple shows at the same time on our TVs. Our phones do everything for us and long gone are the days of being limited to only a certain number of texts or minutes to talk on the phone per month. Portion sizes and screens at movie theaters are bigger. We think having more choices is a good thing but in many ways it's not.
When I was shown this quote, I knew it would be worth unpacking in a blog and addressing what it says at the very end: "Yet really we are hungry for connection." The whole idea of living in a "more" kind of culture is that we don't need to depend on anyone else. Google has the answers for us. We have plenty of things to take up our time, most notably social media. Long gone are the days where you often needed to rely on strangers for help. Now, we go through self check-out at the grocery store. We order online instead of shopping in stores. We spend far more time indoors staring at a screen instead of being outside with people. When there isn't human connection in small ways, it's harder to have human connection in bigger ways.
And what do we do when we want that human connection in bigger ways? Most turn to online dating. Online dating sites and apps are a perfect example of "more." You can scroll through tons of profiles trying to select the "best" option and always wondering if there is someone better with the next click or swipe. It's possible to meet people all over the world who could be a potential match for you. For some people, this feels exciting to know how many people they can "meet" and learn about. For most, this is overwhelming.
More feels good temporarily. Most people want 10 movies to pick from instead of 2. Most people want to have 15 things to choose from off a menu instead of 5. There are cheaper options at a store for those who want to save money and more expensive options for those who can afford it or want it badly enough. It all seems well and good, doesn't it? Yes, to a point. But then we get greedy. We get pissed when the grocery store is out of our brand even though there are 4 other perfectly fine brands to pick from. We get irritated when the movie theater isn't showing the movie we want to see at the exact time that we want to go. We sit there staring at our menu, unable to decide (and then the food we do pick comes in a huge portion size, leading to digestive problems later after we've forced ourselves to eat it all).
But how is more a bad thing with relationships? It certainly is a good thing to have more people to choose from than less, right? Not always. For example, 12 people graduated from my grandfather's senior class of high school. About 400 graduated from mine. Who do you think had better connections? My parents live in a house on a street with 5 houses near them. I lived in an apartment complex with probably well over 50 neighbors in nearby units. Who knows their neighbors better? I worked in a small local grocery store where I had about 20 co-workers. I worked at my college's dining hall with over 200 co-workers. Which co-workers did I know better? Quality is so much more important than quantity when it comes to human connection. When we have too many choices, we get lost, we forget, we confuse one person's story with another's, we start to ask the same questions and do the same things with everyone because it takes less work. Getting to truly know people takes effort and we have unfortunately become a society that doesn't want to wait around for results. It's much easier to swipe on tinder from your couch and hope for a match than it is to actually get out and go to a dating event for a couple hours. But really, who do you think feels better at the end of their night? The person who swiped right 50 times on tinder or the person who had 2 great conversations which led to getting asked out on dates by those 2 people at the end of the night?
We lose our appreciation for things when there is an endless supply. This may be a terrible example but one that is true: I appreciate the toilet paper at the end of the roll far more than at the beginning (I thank my lucky stars when there's enough at the end!). I relish the chips at the bottom of the bag a little bit more knowing that it's almost gone. I appreciate my time with my brother more now than I ever have because I don't see him every day like I used to. The tired parents who rarely get date night are far more appreciative when they can get it now than they were at the beginning of their relationship. When things are scarce, we wake up. We feel more gratitude. We are reminded that not everything is at our fingertips whenever we may want or need it.
Reducing the "more" in our lives is well worth it. Take your time when it comes to forming connections. Get to know a person beyond their social media posts and pictures. Introduce yourself (no matter how awkward it feels). Get out of the house, for goodness sake. Ask questions. Give a relationship time to grow. Narrow your social circle a little bit and spend more time with the people who you respect and value. Question how the idea of "more" is really impacting your life in negative ways. Catch yourself getting frustrated over problems that don't really matter. Simplify your life. Connect. And know without a shadow of a doubt that less is actually more.