The repercussions of the reality of the modern workplace and its implications for relationships has continued to pool in my brain since I wrote that entry almost two weeks ago. Combined with the practice of cleaning up my InterWeb life and my outward facing information and appearance, it has brought to question the very nature of relationships themselves in the modern world.
Simply put, most people want relationships to be like automatic transmissions: they want them to work when needed, they do not want to understand how the work, and they certainly do not want to do the work of fixing or maintaining them. They just need to work when desired.
I have not come to this conclusion lightly: it is born out of a higher level of attention I have paid to my interactions on every front since I began to ponder the subject. At the core, most of our modern relationships have become similar to what I view my career function as: keeping the transmission working and in order and (most importantly) not discussing the transmission. No-one cares how things are accomplished, only that they are.
We have become the ultimate transactional society: there is an exchange between two individuals in which one is offering the other something, to which one agrees or disagrees to purchase. If purchased, there is merely an exchange of a medium perceived as value. To most extent, the personal interaction is gone. Everything has become a transaction.
Mind you, this makes things a great deal easier in some ways. I no longer have to think about the nature of my interactions. We have become a service oriented society and so I offer a different kind of service, be it a "like" or a thoughtful comment or just doing a thing. In its highest form, I am anticipating what the other person in the relationship will ask for before they ask for it: the transmission has other gears which also work before you need use them. "See a need, fill a need" from the movie Robots has become the mantra which seems to regulate most of the relationships I am now a part of. And most of all, keep personal opinions, thoughts, or struggles to a minimum if discussed at all. We are rather busy with our own ongoing agendas.
I do not think that this is how relationships always worked (although perhaps, like so many other things, at one time they did work differently and the times have just changed on me) but that - with a very few notable exceptions - is how things work now. Most if not all of my interactions are very much on the surface level - a brief laugh, perhaps a discussion about what happened last weekend or what is happening next - but that is the extent of it.
I am commanded by my Scriptures to be of service, so perhaps none of this should come as any shock to me: while there is perhaps not a great deal of relationship building in serving others, there is at least the sense of fulfilling God's commands. For the rest, I have determined to let go of any expectation that such relationships as I may have had in the past, if not overblown by the fading and blurring, will come again. The world, it seems, needs less relationships and more transmissions that run appropriately.