Going Deep or Going Nowhere

Is our modern world content with shallow experiences and superficial relationships?

I cringe whenever others judge me for asking questions and wanting a deep conversation. C’mon, an intermittent chat on social media or SMS is not a conversation! Merriam-Webster defines conversation as “a face-to-face and oral exchange of sentiments, observations, opinions, or ideas.”

In my third year of college, I remember telling my family and best friend: I want to study abroad because I am hungry for deeper conversations with others. I was in the music and nightlife industry, and every event revolved around: “Hey, how are you? So nice you are here. Have fun tonight!” It was a script on repeat that lasted 6 -10 hours at least 3 – 4 nights a week. I was saturated, and after 3 years of making boatloads of cash, I couldn’t take it anymore. I literally packed my bags and went on a study-abroad program. I will never forget that I was able to put into words that my main reason for leaving was wanting more depth, contemplation, and the opportunity to fill my curious cup with knowledge and new experiences.

Fast-forward 25 years, and in most of the places I try to engage in deep conversation today, people want to keep it light and sweet.

I don’t want to come across as uberly deep or critical of conversations that are not deep. There is space to talk about many other things that we love in life: movies, travel, kids, school, music, sports, etc. My frustration is that I believe these conversations can be part of other meaningful, thoughtful, and intimate topics.

Or is our modern world just content with shallow experiences and superficial relationships? Fewer and fewer people seem willing to dive deep into anything, whether it be their own emotions and thoughts, their relationships with others, or the complexities of the world around them. But why is this the case? Why do most people seem to shy away from going deep?

One reason for this may be fear. Going deep requires vulnerability and openness, and many people are afraid of being hurt or rejected if they reveal too much about themselves. It can be easier to keep things superficial and avoid the risk of being hurt, like talking about the weather, sensational news, sports, or the last restaurant you visited. Similarly, delving into complex issues can be overwhelming, and many people may feel ill-equipped to deal with them. It can be easier to stick to simple, straightforward answers and avoid the discomfort of grappling with difficult topics.

Another reason may be busyness. Our fast-paced world often leaves us with little time for deep reflection and introspection. We are constantly bombarded with information, and finding the time and space to think deeply about anything can be difficult. Many people may feel they simply don’t have the time or energy to go deep, so they settle for surface-level experiences and relationships.

Social media and technology may also play a role in this phenomenon, encouraging quick, attention-grabbing content that can be consumed in seconds. This may condition people to prefer bite-sized pieces of information over deep dives into complex topics. Similarly, technology has made it easy to stay constantly connected with others, but this can come at the cost of meaningful, face-to-face interactions. People may be more likely to settle for superficial online connections rather than invest the time and effort required to build deep, meaningful relationships in person.

Ultimately, it’s a personal decision to go deep or not. For me, it’s a way of authentically connecting with others, objectively and spiritually. Conversations that matter tend to have a lasting impression on my life and those of others. When these conversations uncover truths about myself and others, growth happens. In a society that values productivity and efficiency above all else, taking the time to go deep may be seen as a luxury or even a waste of time. We are often encouraged to keep moving forward, to be constantly achieving and accomplishing, and this can make it difficult to justify taking a step back to reflect and go deep.

Don’t shy away from going deep. Going deep can be incredibly rewarding and fulfilling. By taking the time to reflect on our emotions, relationships, and the world around us, we can gain a deeper understanding of ourselves and the people and issues that matter most to us.

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