Human contact lost in a digital world
You’ve heard the cliché over and over, “everyone’s texting but no one’s communicating!” We are communicating, and we are connected. In fact, we are more connected to world news and current events than ever before. With a click of a button we can check the weather in Bangladesh, update our status or on occasion speak face-to-face with our mothers via Skype.
The problem is the way we communicate. It’s almost impossible for us to speak to one another without hiding behind usernames, screens or phone numbers. We’ve lost the face-to-face contact that we once had.
What we need is to take a bath. I’m not talking about the rubber ducky, lie in your own filth type of bath; I’m looking towards antiquity for this.
The bathhouse in Greco-Roman culture was a place of community. It was a place of communication and some argue that it was in fact the birthplace of democracy.
Men (sorry ladies) would strip down and enter the baths ready to relax and simply talk to their fellow citizens about the day, the local government and any raids they’d recently been on.
The bathhouses weren’t just occupied by upper-class men either. Men of all types were allowed into the bathhouse for discussion. It was an opportunity for the working class to meet their emperor, and vice-versa. This promoted conversation. It allowed groups of people to come together in a communal place and discuss issues.
Where are our baths? Some may argue that the local coffee shop is an outlet for conversation with ‘old comrades.’ But have you ever been in a Starbucks and not seen someone glued to his or her Apple computer? Or met with your mayor or member of parliament and discussed political ideas? I’m guessing the answer is no.
Perhaps the gym is a place where dialogue can take place? After all, the male locker room is eerily similar to the Roman bath house, and saunas are still an option at some gyms.
Have you ever been in a male locker room? Very little discussion occurs in there. Homophobic tendencies have created a stigma of “looking down and saying nothing” to avoid eye contact.
So where do we get our tête-à-tête? We can’t even include tutorials, these too are filled with people only in the same stream of study, and do not allow for discussion with the upper or the lower-working class. Again, don’t get me wrong; I understand there are exceptions to every rule.
My answer to the “where are our baths?” question is simple. We don’t have them. We don’t have a true outlet of pure discussion with everyone. We don’t have a place where a person can strip to their skivvies and discuss Harper’s new legislation in a heated bath.
This whole idea may sound creepy, but when we’re living in a digital age full of Internet porn, 4channers and memes, it doesn’t seem so bizarre.
Perhaps it’s time to find a place like the baths of ancient Greece and Rome; after all, Augustus didn’t have a username and the Roman Empire lasted hundreds of years.