The Power of Proximity

In our hyper-real world of interconnectivity, constant access, and unlimited resource (theoretically, almost practically), there is still something that hasn’t changed: proximity means everything.  There is still real distance between people–experientially, emotionally, politically, and all other -lys; we simply have more means at our disposable to manufacture closeness.  (And don’t retailers and lobbyists love this!)

Ten texts per day.  Five emails a week.  Two voicemails a month.  One long, late-night phone call.  It doesn’t take much to create proximity—especially because all those mediums are now conveniently in-hand 24/7.  But, it isn’t the medium that makes the most difference: it’s still the consistency.  Consistency imitates presence.  It exudes an aura of nearness.  If I call you once every three months and we talk about life, love, and the Universe, it may, in that moment, feel like the most intimate friendship.  But if I call you once every three hours and we talk about the jerk that just cut me off in traffic, the bad dream that kept me up last night, and how my parakeets paramour is interrupting my home-office conference calls—that, my friends, is intimacy.  We all want to be heard.  We all want our voice to matter for something.  We all want to be listened to—most especially when what we have to say is embarrassingly un-profound.

the power of proximity: touch

the power of proximity: touch

I think that’s why “hanging out” still trumps the flash mob; why dropping by unexpectedly or crashing on someone’s couch still trumps a pre-paid vacation; why lots of witty tweets about the “nothing” of life garners a huge following; and why your “closest friend” is still the one that drives your drunk self home at the end of the party.  These are the moments when reaching out through text, talk, or touch we find someone on the other side; and the person who is on the other side of our reach the most, they get the most of us.

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    • Dan Sanders
    • May 9th, 2011

    This is a good point, and I’m convinced that despite technological advancements, things like how people basically work don’t change, even if they’re complex and further complicated by a variety of methods of expression and communication.

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