As the world connects via technology more are feeling lonely

Posted Thursday, February 27th, 2014. Filed Under Voices of wisdom

I have had this discussion with many people, both young and old. I feel that while technology has been good for business, connecting people all over the world thereby opening up markets that may never have existed before and allowed us to find ‘old friends’ and people we have not seen in years (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.) it has also separated us and left some feeling lonely — desire for real connection.

In an the Oprah article, Speak up! (March 2014, p.126-129) a Chicago University professor John T. Cacioppo, PhD, coauthor of Loneliness: Connection, stated that at any given time at least one in five people, or roughly 6o million Americans, suffers from loneliness. This ranges from bouts of melancholy we feel from time to time to a chronic lack of intimacy- a yearning for someone to truly know you, get you, see you – that can leave people feeling seriously unanchored and even lost.

In one of my discussions with a 22 year old I shared my view that the youth do not truly understand how to communicate and build relationships. He disagreed. I disagreed. I told him that he does not understand the true definition of communication. Communication is made up of three parts – words, body language and tone. Words only represent 7% with body language being 38% and 55% being tone of voice. The millennial youth create most of their friendships and relationships through texting, email and online social media. What happens is that when you use these formats you eliminate 93% of the value of communication. You exchange words but the meaning of the other person is lost because you evaluate the message through your OWN filtering. This can often lead to miscommunication.

This is very concerning especially since business is about building relationships – customers and clients- hearing their concerns, thoughts, feelings, belief about your company and your product and service. In order to building lasting relationships, personal or professional you need to connect at a deeper level.

What has changed? In the article Francis Reimers, a 34-year-old marketing executive says, “No one picks up the phone anymore. Sure I have friends who like or comment on something I have posted on social media, but that’s not really friendship.”

Experts say that while social media has given us more ways to communicate, many believe it may also leave us more alienated.

It’s the deteriorating quality of our relationships that concerns researchers like Harry Reis, PhD, professor of psychology at the University of Rochester.

In the USA more than Canada people also remove themselves from a support group when they move away from their families and live somewhere else. This is happening a little more in Canada. This compounds the issue.

Society and people are also perpetuating this. In one Pew poll, 13% of cell phone owners admitted to pretending to use their phones to avoid interacting with those around them. And with the rise of automation -self-checkout kiosks, online banking, it’s easier than ever to avoid communicating with people in ways we simply couldn’t imagine a few generations ago. A certain solitariness has gradually become the norm.

NOT GOOD. What’s more concerning is that we do not even realize what is happening and the affects. Many people are seeking out help for depression but in fact are not. They are simply normal. Today it is becoming more widespread to accept depression so people will tell a physician how they are feeling and rather than say they are lonely and sound like a loser they will say they are depressed. Richard Schwartz, MD, co-author of The Lonely American: Drifting Apart in the Twenty-first Century discusses this in his book. He says, “We’ve destigmatized depression to a point where people are more comfortable saying ‘I’m depressed’ than ‘I’m lonely.” It’s as if “lonely” were synonymous with “loser.”

There is something else that was brought up in the article and that is that there is this notion that someone successful or attractive can’t be lonely. But it’s not your looks that matter. If you feel like no one sees you for who you really are, you’re going to feel alone.

With this being said we need shift the way we connect with one another. As the adults and ones who understand building relationships we need to show example and reinforce for our children the importance of being able to connect and communicate with one another.

There is evidence and research that supports the need for humans to connect and how we fare better when we do.

a Purdue University study found that people who made eye contact with strangers reported feeling less disconnected than those who felt as if people looked right through them. Reaching out in even the smallest ways can inch us closer to more meaningful relationships. Also people with larger social networks (not your 1000 Facebook friends!!!) are less likely to get sick and their memories are sharper. Some find they have fewer colds, less stress, lower blood pressure and better sleeps.

In one research study it found that friends may be an essential key to longevity. Over a given period of time, people who have strong tied to family, friends or co-workers have a 50 percent greater chance of outliving those with fewer social connections.

What can you do? Let’s begin connecting as human beings once again — caring and showing compassion. The more disconnected we are from one another the easier it is to not care as much.

Smile at your neighbour or a stranger. Look someone in the eye and send ‘love’ to them — wishing them a great day. Start up a conversation with someone while you are in line.

I talk to people all the time. I love meeting new people. I love connecting with people on a deeper level. My friends know that I don’t love ‘communicating’ by text or email and that I pefer to speak to them. Time doesn’t always allow for this. I do my best. Sometimes when I reach out to a stranger I feel they misread the signs like ‘oh she’s hitting on me’. NO. I am just connecting one human being to another.

This weekend enjoy. Connect with those close to you. Pick up the phone or better yet, go and see them in person. Give them a hug and let them know you really care.

I want to wish everyone a wonderful weekend.

All my love,

Sandra

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