I have been thinking a lot about connections recently.
In today’s world, we have the tools to connect on a scale that was considered science fiction when I was born, forty some odd years ago. Generation X started their journey in the dark ages and grew with a world that became more digitally connected and more isolating.
I remember watching a news broadcast, years ago, about Faith Popcorn and her theory on how our culture was going to disconnect through cocooning. It sounded like an odd idea at the time. How could we, as individuals, isolate ourselves from each other?
Well We Did
Video arcades, a teen social hang out, no longer exist because we bought our own game consoles.
Cinemas used to be a weekly treat, but they made way for video stores and ticket costs sky rocketed. Gone are the dinner and movie dates, they’ve been replaced with Netflix and chill.
Drive through options have extended our isolation into our cars where we pick up food, coffee, and groceries. Amazon and Online Shopping keeps us out of stores and malls so we can shop from the comfort of our homes without ever chatting with a salesperson.
We have slowly been removing social hang outs for teenagers and they in turn, have no where to go. Most helicopter parents won’t let their kids ‘hang out’ anywhere because they might get into trouble. So, our children are learning how to stay home.
We Are Home Alone
My bank account dictates whether or not I can hang out in coffee shops. With the skyrocketing cost of living in the city, my time in these establishments has started to dwindle. Even when I am in these places for long periods of time, I hardly meet anyone new. Everyone, including myself, is behind a laptop or looking at their phone, the two items that tell those around you – I’m busy, buzz off.
Not to mention I live in a city known for it’s isolation. Dating in this city is near impossible, let alone finding people willing to invest in a friendship. Everyone is busy, they mean to get together with people in the real world, then when they look up the year is gone, then two.
Work has even become more isolating as many people, like me, work from home. To save money, companies are opting for more remote arrangements for their employees. Making it even harder for people to connect. We drive into our garages and build higher fences to avoid having to talk to the neighbours.
Social media and online tools have grown over the last ten years to improve personal connections, to keep in touch, share our experiences with those we know and love. Are we really connecting though?
I spend a lot of time online. Taking online courses, writing, posting on social media, tweaking my website, watching Netflix, dating and applying for work. I am chatting with people, virtually meeting new people, learning about people and telling people about myself.
What are your thoughts? Which generation do you think was more connected to friends and family in their forties, us or our parents?
What to do
Getting out into the real world and saying “hello” to people on transit and coffee shops, is a start, which risks the one thing people fear – Rejection.
Volunteer for a charity or cause.
Text friends to see if they want to do something.
Go out into the world for a mini staycation adventure with your kids to build stronger connections with them. The bonus is getting acquainted with the city you live in.
Use Online Tools
Attend events advertised on Facebook.
Go to free seminars promoted on LinkedIn.
Attend meetups to get out of the house, and more importantly, out of your comfort zone. Learn something new while meeting new people.
Use dating sites to make real world meet and greets in a public place, not text endlessly because all this means is you are building a relationship with your phone.
Which online connecting tools do you use to help you get out and make connections in the real world?
Make it a goal to smile more, get out more, and live more. Maybe you meet someone new, maybe you don’t. At least you lived.
Shannon Peel is the author of THIRTEEN a book about a boy and his mom caught behind enemy lines when soldiers attack their North American hometown. The story asks the question, what if it happened here?
For more information check out her website. www.shannonpeel.com