One-of-a-kind experience

12/12/2012 10:00 PM

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Hope is among the most important feelings that people might experience at this holiday time.

The recent four-day One-of-a-Kind show at the Merchandise Mart provided me, a group dynamics specialist, with ample proof that we indeed have much reason for hope. We will increase our chances that those hopes will be fulfilled when we observe the profound principle: keep it human.

Highlights of that outstanding event included the following:

The enormous, excited crowds energetically connected with the 600 artists and craftsmen represented. There was no audible evidence of that ubiquitous “background music” we encounter in almost every establishment these days. There was little presence of commercial sponsors. All involvements were between patrons and artisans.

Furthermore, few electronic devices, handheld or with earbuds and their protruding wires, were apparent. I saw no two-thumb texting. Eye contact was abundant. I heard no expletives and noticed few signs of tension, arguments, or disagreements. Interactions were pleasant and courteous. Politeness was the order of the day. Patrons seemed curious, eager to learn, and interested in finding desirable gifts. The need for human contact was palpable, perhaps reflecting a deficiency in our contemporary society. It was obvious that human contact trumped electronic involvement here.

The seductive pull of electronic connection actually results in increased human disconnection. At this show people had the opportunity to talk directly to those who had created the objects being offered, and the creative energies of the artisans were everywhere to be seen.

The diverse anxieties that many people experience these days cause them to feel alienated from others. Nevertheless, the need for human contact remains. It was amply satisfied at the One-of-a-Kind show.

The human interactions at the One-of-a-Kind show offered plenty of reason for hope. My recommendation to everyone for our New Year is to “keep it human.”

Leon J. Hoffman, Ph.D.


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