Friendships and Human Connections, Layover Diaries
Want to know about relationships and friendships? Spend some time observing people and their behavior as they prepare for travel. It is more dramatic than prime time television. I sit back and watch people like they’re goldfish as they elicit powerful emotions from happiness to joy to sadness. I see families, lovers, friends, hug and greet each other like a movie ending. I can see the excitement and euphoric feeling in couples’ eyes as they go on vacation. They look and sound like giggly teenagers. One can wonder if they are this happy during their day to day lives. I see a groups of friends bond and talk about their memories from trips prior. The true bonding moment in friendships. I see families of other cultures who don’t speak English show non verbal language of anguish as they send off loved ones. Traveling brings out these emotions in all of us. Traveling creates something that connects all humans in friendships and relationships, memories.
Many times on my layovers as I people watch like a stalker, I wonder what makes people so connected to others. We spend so much time magnifying our differences that makes us different. We forget the simple things that makes us connect with other humans. What these layovers and traveling has taught me is that human connection can come in the simplest of forms. If you put a bunch of people who don’t know each other in a uncomfortable situation, they will connect with each other faster than the boring “What do you do for a living?” kind of questions. People connect everyday at the airport without even knowing it. When flights are delayed, people come together as an angry mob blaming the airline employees for their inconveniences. Have you ever witnessed people who have missed flights due to delays caused by the airlines. They all discuss where there going and why they can’t miss that connection amongst each other as if its sports bar talk. If people can come together mob style than why can’t people do it when it matters or for more serious situations.
I can admit that I have fallen into this social mob mentality trap sometimes. We can be selfish individuals. In a world where scarcity is taught, most of us only connect with others on a common ground when it benefits us personally. When tragedy happens across the world, it’s pray for these people or that country because some people can identify with those victims. And for other tragedies, people are silent. There are times when we have opportunities to connect through tragedies but as I stated earlier, we sometimes cherry pick the moments we allow ourselves to connect with others. It is usually done when it is convenient for us. We are too busy worshipping presidents and whining about our differences with each other, we forget there are certain things that connects humans together no matter what age, race, culture or gender you may be. The airport can be a time of madness and chaos at times. Anxiety and stress are the dominate tones of most airports. It is in these moments when I have seen people come together as humans and connect with each other through madness. That’s why when you see airlines in public relations cringing situations, you see the passengers come together. But what makes those outrage situations different is they put another human’s needs above their own.
Another example of witnessing human connection at the airport is witnessing the bonding of friends. I think about the brotherhood I had with my friends. Life changes relationships as you get older. You know nothing lasts forever, even friendships. I realized friendships and relationships are like anything else. It requires a lot of work and effort. Facebook has made it really easy to overlook friends. I understand when we have friends who live across the country that Facebook is a useful tool to keep in touch. But what about the friends who live in the same city? Because of how easily accessible they may be, we constantly take them for granted.
Facebook replaces real life connections. Commenting on posts is a substitute for human connection. It’s not the same because social media gives us an out because we can fool everyone and keep up a barrier between us and the world. That laptop or mobile phone keeps us numb to what ever is going on in our friends lives at the time. I have friends on Facebook I haven’t seen in years. When you stop commenting on their posts, they slowly become strangers. It is a painful reality to watch people you had so much in coming with become strangers right before your eyes. Events you have missed, kids you haven’t met, all the things we used to do when Facebook didn’t exist are now replaced by liking posts or commenting.
Here is a story from Matt Kepnes of Nomadic Matt tell his story of how traveling has affected his friendships and the challenges of reconnecting. https://www.nomadicmatt.com/travel-blogs/losing-friends/
As adolescent years, we meet our first group of friends. These individuals are going to shape who you become. It is the first taste of social influence. That is why we never really meet people like the ones we have met in our childhood. These friendships we form in our adolescent years leaves an impression on us far into adulthood. Even when fallouts happen, these people still will have an affect on us forever. It is so much easier to maintain friendships as young people. You don’t have much responsibilities at the time. As life goes on we accumulate things such as responsibilities and baggage. These become obstacles in friendships and people change. Other priorities become the focus then the need for that particular friendship fades away. That’s why people get hurt when others move on. We need to belong to something. A sense of belonging is needed for humans. We need that much like we need water and sleep. To grow in life you need to expand your groups of friends to change your perspective and see things from a different lens. Being around people who have the same ideologies, dreams, goals, and thought process as you do is what human connection is.
When it’s just you and your thoughts, your mind goes wild. The airport is like a book or a television show. The only thing missing is the popcorn. What seems like infinite time during layovers allows me to people watch and gather tons of information about life. There is a lot of adversity at the airport because of all the stressed out passengers and airline employees. People usually show themselves in these times. Sometimes it resembles a scene from “The Walking Dead”, passengers looking for the nearest airline employee to attack and consume to feed their needs. As I calmly sit and observe during my reflection time, I call these my “Airport Chronicles”.
- Eric L. Bolden
- E. The Traveling Trainer