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Disconnection in a Connectivity World

Thursday, 12 July 2018

Here in the Western world, we live a life where most people are connected electronically somehow. We have multiple social media sites, work connection sites, shopping, school reunion sites and more. We are seemingly never alone. Or are we? A phone or computer isn’t the same as a human to human interface. It begins to beg the question about whether all of our technology is really connecting us or keeping us more and more disconnected from one another. These are questions that I ask myself often these days. I have begun seeking out answers and others who are asking the same questions. I have sat down to write this post so many times but the words have simply eluded me much like regular contact with others has in recent months.

The theory put forth by Johann Hari in his book Lost Connections, which I have been reading, as well as renowned scientists is that we are more disconnected now from each other than we ever have been before. Those connections are a needed quantity for most of us to be a healthy and whole person. Johann Hari talks about the fact that we don’t have tribe anymore and we don’t connect on a personal face to face level regularly with tribe like we have in the past. (For the purpose of this discussion tribe will be used to mean a group or groups of people that we interact with whom we can depend on for help and to help in return.) Humans are social animals and the more disconnected we become the more anxious and depressed we are becoming. Our society has the highest rates of depression and anxiety ever in our history. I believe that we need more quality human interaction with one another on a much more regular basis than many of us are getting.

I have seen this happen in my own life as a result of chronic illness, OCD and depression. Then you add in some environmental factors and it’s a recipe for disconnection disaster in my world. About 7 months ago my car died on me and since I am not working we really can’t afford to fix or replace it. (We are working on it and it will hopefully be resolved soon.) So this has meant that I am in effect trapped at home, a lot. When my partner is home in the evenings & on weekends I can use his car but there’s a limited window of when I have access to the car, when I feel well enough to go do something and when others are available to do things with me. Throw in that we live about 45 minutes to an hour from most of our tribe the window gets even smaller. Needless to say the optimal window when all three main factors are available is relatively small and hard to fit through.  I am someone who loves my solitude and alone time but apparently I can have way too much of a good thing.

I have tribe, I have family of choice with whom I am close and I have some bio family that I am still tangentially connected to. However, even with all that I still often feel cut loose in this overly connected world. It’s ironic that the more I am connected, the less connected I feel. I am very fortunate to have a smart phone, a tablet, a laptop and a PC. I am about as connected as you can get electronically. I have social media profiles and lots of friends to keep up with there. But there is something inherently missing in this electronic communication for me. Maybe it’s body language, maybe it’s tone of voice, or the glint of an eye as someone laughs about something or maybe it’s just simple human touch and contact, sharing that energy of just being in each other’s aura for a while. Whatever it is I know I need more of the human connections and far less of the electronic connectivity of our modern world. We are all so busy and on the go all the time that we don’t always have or make time to connect with each other more deeply.

Don’t worry, I am not throwing out all my gadgets and going to live in a yurt in the woods somewhere. Ok, maybe the yurt one day but I will still have my electronic gadgetry.

So what’s the solution you ask? What I am going to do is reach out more even when it is tough and the depression is telling me no one wants to hear from me. I am going to make more phone calls to reach out rather than texts because there’s something to be said for that connection of hearing another person’s voice. I am going to put down the electronics more often and interact in good old fashioned ways. I am going to  send more cards & letters because I know how much I love receiving them so why not start the ball rolling and send them? I used to be a very prolific letter writer and then just got out of the habit with email and such. And last but certainly not least of all, I am going to get together face to face whenever I can with those I care about, make time even if it’s just an hour here or there.

I don’t know that this is a perfect solution to all the disconnection I have been experiencing and that I see all around me but I know it’s a start. A journey can’t begin until I take the first step out and begin. So, here I go beginning.

 

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