I spend the better percentage of my week engrossed in all the latest and greatest innovations, inventions, apps, networks, offerings, blah blah blah that are designed to further connect and inter-connect the social fabric we now live with in virtual abundance.
From that vantage point I also spend quite a bit of time reflecting (thinking) about the impact of this hyper-connectivity on my own and society’s human experience. Last week I got to do this reflective activity in one of my favorite places-The NJ Transit train from Trenton to NY Penn Station (round trip 74 minutes on the Express line). I noticed that of the thousands making the same commute, a single digit percentage were unplugged from some device or interactive with their own thinking in a conscious state (some slept) or another individual. This is my inspiration for the blog post today which asks the simple (maybe even rhetorical) question of “Are we more disconnected than ever in a hyper-connected world?”
Only the individual reading this can answer that question, but I will tell you that I believe it is an important question to mull over as we move to unprecedented levels of complexity, connectivity, distraction, and demands of our attention, time, and find ourselves in potentially a paralyzing state of overwhelming opportunity.
My simple remedy?
1) Make it a point to have one conversation today (and the next day…) where you have no other stimulus between you and the other party (READ: Put the damn cell phone away and on silent and just listen and be present).
2) Introduce yourself the old fashioned way to a friendly stranger in line at your favorite coffee spot or daily mass transit commute, and start a conversation about their kids, their plans that day, etc.
3) Use your smartphone today to actually “CALL” a loved one you haven’t spoken to in awhile just to catch up and say hello, and avoid the temptation to put it on speaker and answer emails or text while you are conversating.
4) Create something of value for yourself and your future by pulling out some paper or index cards and a set of colorful markers and writing out a few short term and long term goals you want to achieve and carry them with you in your pocket for the next week reading them during your down time as an alternative to purely diving into your FB feeds, youtube, or Twitter feed.
I am not in anyway advocating a retraction of your digital world, merely a breather from it that is of your design and that allows you time to recover and “think” vs simply react or try to “keep up”. We live in wonderful times, but with every great innovation and opportunity comes an increased responsibility, and I believe like me, many of you might be craving a little old-fashioned neighborly connection that doesn’t run on batteries or wifi.