Linda Stamper Boyne: Living the Jetsons vs. the Naffils in Vail Valley
Vail, CO, Colorado
I used to love “The Jetsons.” It was my favorite cartoon. I was fascinated by the way everything was done by machines and robots; so futuristic! The thing I didn’t consider as a child was how much the human element was removed from the whole scenario.And now, just a few years later (and in this case, by few I really mean “few-ish”), we are sort of living it.
So much of life is automated that we can actually go through a regular day without any real human contact. Telecommuting, drive-through everything, e-mail, instant messaging, texting.
We can’t even be assured that we’ll be talking to a human when we answer the phone because of computer-generated mass calls and voice recognition phone systems. Though technology has streamlined our lives and made them more efficient, is it making us disengage by not forcing person-to-person contact for even the briefest moments in our days?
The other morning, the person delivering the Denver Post was running late, so I happen to be opening my shades when he/she swung through my neighborhood. I watched as he/she drove along the wrong side of my street, tossing the plastic-ensconced newspapers out his/her window onto several of my neighbors’ driveways, then speeding off to cover another street.
As I went about getting ready for the day, I started thinking about how much this single activity has changed. When I was growing up, there was a paperboy in my neighborhood. Literally a neighbor boy who delivered the papers after school each day on his bike with his newsprint-stained bag slung across his chest, who’d come to our front door once a month to collect payment from my mom.
No faceless person in the early a.m. No computer-generated bill arriving in the mail full of marketing promotions. It was face-to-face, person-to-person. That’s what is so often missing today.
Much as the dog needs his pack, the cow needs his herd and the goose needs his flock, we need people around us. Social psychologists call this “Need for Affiliation,” or as I like to call it, Naffil. (Does this mean my pals are not actually friends, but affiliates?) Apparently the intensity of our Naffil is hard-wired into us.
Some people, like me, need more than others to feel satisfied. More face time, more conversation, more laughing, more contact. I have a high Naffil. Then there are those few who are lone wolves, who don’t want people around or care for them when they are. This would indicate they have a low Naffil.
One of my affiliates, who also has a high Naffil, struggles with it and actually has a term for her desire to not pass up an opportunity to engage with others, FOMO (Fear of Missing Out), as in “I want to go to the party, but I have to be at work early. I’m having severe FOMO.”
The hardest part for me about having a high Naffil is when my network of affiliates is unavailable. I can very happily be alone, but there are times when I just truly need to spend time with another person. Without social contact for prolonged periods, I start feeling isolated and blue.
Although that’s the hardest part, the worst part about being highly Naffiled is when one of my affiliates moves away, particularly my nearest and dearest.
I recognize that we are a very mobile society. I understand that moving is just a part of life. But knowing these facts intellectually doesn’t make it any easier emotionally when affiliates leave. Even if they’re moving toward something really good, it’s just plain sad for those left behind.
As you can imagine, as a high Naffil person, I have made many affiliations over the years. I’ve often wondered why certain people came into my life. I believe that the people who cross our paths do so for a reason. Some people come into our lives to make us better people, some to teach us tough lessons. Lessons about ourselves, our beliefs, our strengths and our weaknesses. Then, of course, there are those who are simply put in our lives purely for our entertainment and enjoyment. Those are my favorites.
Linda Stamper Boyne of Edwards writes weekly for the Vail Daily. She can be contacted through firstname.lastname@example.org
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