Confession of a User

I just might be a user. Not a drug user–a people user. I’m concerned that I look at people with the attitude of what can they do for me? How can that person be my friend? How can they make me look good? Feel good? Can they help me with this task? How can this conversation aid my social media presence? Is that handsome guy a potential boyfriend?

I used to think I was people oriented, but if I were people oriented, I’d stop walking when someone talks to me instead of throwing a reply over my shoulder while I bee-line to my destination. If I were people oriented I wouldn’t have hidden at the other end of the McDonalds so a certain someone wouldn’t see me and want to talk. I had a blog post to finish, and I had to go to work, and…

So I’m task oriented. Not that task-orientation is a sin. The world needs us taskers, otherwise the factories would stand idle most of the time, the books would never be written, the dinner wouldn’t be done and no one would have clean underwear. But I need balance, and I need to recognize how truly valuable the people I walk past are. They aren’t a means to an end. In many cases, they ARE the end. They’re the patients who will take the antidepressants I made this afternoon and feel better. They’re the ones who will eat my dinner. They’re the ones who read my books and blogs. Now, they don’t wear my clean underwear… but I think you get the point. My tasks are for them, not me.

Two separate, parallel ideas set me on this train of thought. The first came from Kristen Lamb’s Rise of the Machines, a book on marketing through social media. The book is on my kindle and I can’t find the page, so I’ll summarize. She says that writers, in their desperation to market their books, forget to meet people where they are, with what they enjoy and concerns them. We need to see people, not as potential readers, but as people. She talked about how a post on Facebook had caught her eye—a new mom begging for prayer as her baby struggled to survive. Kristen offered support and encouragement, and now that the baby is healthy, continues to connect over baby pictures.

That’s not trying to force a book down someone’s throat. Not by a long shot. That’s genuine care and interest. I was convicted.

The second was in a post about dating from J.S. Park’s blog. He said: “A lot of this random ‘crushing’ is from our culture of ‘what can you do for me?’—which leads to objectification and dehumanization… When you practice the disciplined art of being friends with the opposite gender, you’ll find a love for them that does NOT regard their physical appearance or ‘dating material’ level.”

Oooh, conviction again.

I’m feeling caught in the balance between working hard and valuing the people who are in front of me—my coworkers, my family. Mostly I just work hard. I’ve seen the opposite too—people who stand around visiting at work, never getting things done, wasting their employer’s time and money. But I don’t think there needs to be a dichotomy like that.  And sitting alone in McDonalds, posting to my blog get’s old fast.  I’m doing it right now, and feeling kinda bummed.

I doubt there’s an easy answer or a quick fix. For the moment, I’m thinking of making it a task for myself. To do: slow down and value people.

Too cold?

Read the post by J.S. Parks. “To Love Without Idolizing A Relationship–A Mega Post on Dating and Really Bad Advice”