In this hyperconnected digital age, it’s good to remind ourselves that we not always need modems or cables to feel connected to each other – we have our own WiFi inside of us that constantly scans the environment for opportunities to connect. Just tune in and pay attention. You’ll notice that when you see others suffering you can feel their pain, and if you are really in tune you’ll also do something to alleviate their distress. You’ll notice that you laugh with your friends even when you don’t get the joke and shed tears of joy at a friend’s wedding. We are social beings with a need and an innate ability to connect to others, no props required.
Our innate drive for connection can probably explain why we are so addicted to social media – suddenly we can grow our social network exponentially, in the click of a button. Technology has brought down distance, time and social and economical barriers between people – we can potentially reach out any time to anyone on the planet. If what we are after is quantity social media can readily deliver. But the problem is that our audience may be limitless in size but the quality of the connections we foster online are much more limited than those we have in the natural world.
Social media enables us to broadcast content to the world and receive broadcasts from others and in this process we share and receive feedback – we sit and wait for comments and ‘likes’ from our connections – and how we crave for their seal of approval! Nothing wrong with wanting to be ‘liked’ but what concerns me is that when we spend three hours of our day maintaining relationships in this way we are eating out on time we could be spending cultivating richer connections.
I love technology and think it’s a great gift to humanity but we should remind ourselves that it should be used to amplify our social experiences not detract from them. We’ve reached a point in which our phones are our best mealtime companions and to me this indicates there is something out of balance. We have a need to connect but to live fulfilling lives we need to connect in a meaningful way.