I have 451 friends, and they all hear everything I have to say. With the stroke of an enter key, I can share with them all what I had for breakfast. I am so connected.
Certainly our capability to communicate around the globe has enabled us to meaningfully learn more about each other than we ever have before, and to see images of events that inspire us to compassion and move us to action. That’s amazing, and extremely powerful, and I honestly don’t know how we lived without this incredible resource. It’s very easy to believe that, because with current technology we have the world at out our fingertips, we are connected more deeply than we ever have been, but it’s also easy to lose sight of the fact that 38 people “liking” what I had for breakfast isn’t really connection.
Something’s going astray. On a human level – on a deep understanding, heart connection level – something is fading away. When we sit at a table with our family or peers and everyone’s attention is on their electronic device, we lose the rewards of being together. When it is much easier for us to dash off a text message than to dial the phone, we lose the personal nature of our communication. When it becomes commonplace for people to say exactly what is on their minds, callous to the feelings of the reader of their thoughts, we lose civility in interaction.
What did we all do before the internet came along and shrunk the world and gave us all the illusion of being closer together? What did we do before cyber-connection replaced living connection? In our age of hyper-connectivity, how can we get back to the foundations of what makes personal relationships so rewarding?
Allow me to suggest:
- Pick up the phone and call someone with whom you haven’t spoken in awhile.
- Take a few moments to sit down and write a letter, longhand, to someone who has touched your life in a meaningful way.
- Knock on your neighbor’s door and invite them over for a cup of coffee.
- Plan a get together with a small group of close friends.
- Join (or start) a book club, a discussion group, a social justice gathering…
How can you forge some real, tangible connections today?