Needing More than Virtual Connections
Every day there seems to be a new solution, a new approach, or a new instrument of technology aiming to solve society's “issues.” More, better, slicker, easier, and faster is the desired mode. But do the inventors ever stop to think and ask themselves: what part of the human soul will this impact? Does it feed a true human need? Do they ask if this new technology contributes even more to the age of loneliness?
At a recent Inspiring Comfort workshop with high school students, we discussed the impact of social media and technology on their lives. I asked if it was fair to characterize them as living in the age of loneliness. Without a flinch, 100% of the students responded yes! And they had more to say;
“I wish I lived in the age of flip phones. The rest of what’s on my phone is a distraction to real life.” - Maxwell
“I wish I lived in the 60’s or 70’s where you grew up in neighborhoods and could just go outside, walk to a friend’s house, and just hang out” - Jim
“I wish kid tracker apps didn’t exist. I can’t even drive to the convenience store without my mom texting and demanding, ‘Where are you going? What are you doing?’. There’s no trust when there are apps.” - Connor
I think you get the picture. These kids crave real human interactions - not virtual realities. They recognize how lonely they feel, and the damage technology has done. But, sometimes struggle to find their way out because technology has been so integral to their lives. They want to be with other people in real time. They want to know they can be trusted because of their character - not their phone tracker. Unfortunately, it’s not always easy for them to “just be” with other people in real time because smart phones and virtual hangout rooms have been a part of their lives for so long.
Technology won’t stop moving forward; however, there is too much at risk if humans don’t re-learn how to connect with each other face-to-face. I challenge us to stimulate ourselves with real, person-to-person interaction and contact, not with social media. Virtual connections are not an adequate replacement for what we need from each other.
So, when given the choice, make it real and in-person when interacting with teens, or anyone for that matter. Humans need more than a virtual existence. We need to help the lonely and disconnected by developing meaningful face-to-face interactions with them, so they can begin to find their way out. Then, most importantly, take the time to be there for them by creating a real, trusting relationship. By doing so, you may just feed what their soul needs most, true connection and comfort. And rest assured, you will be solving one of society’s most pressing issues.
Jill Bornstein is the Co-founder and CFO of Inspiring Comfort. To learn more about the skill of giving comfort visit www.inspiringcomfort.com