By now, you’ve seen me writing about the wonders of technology and the shifts in education possible through gamification and mobile technology. I confess: I’m a fan of technology. I’m however even more fan of human connections.
In a very touching talk, psychologist and sociologist Sherry Turkle confronts us with the dangerous comfort of hyperconnectivity.
The reason hyperconnectivity and delayed communication is comfortable is that they distract us from ourselves (from our hopes and fears) and from others (by selecting when, how and with whom we want to communicate and focus our attention on). None of this is new though: television has been numbing our emotions since its invention and letters have been a delayed form of communication for centuries.
The new aspect about hyperconnectivity is not what it invites us to do, it’s the ubiquity of the offer. The problem is therefore not so much in the act of present-evasion or bore-avoidance, it’s in the obsessive retreat to this behaviour. Meden Agan (“Nothing in excess”) is the Delphi lesson we fail to follow when we disconnect from the present and the living around us to exist in virtual bite-sized conversations.
Sherry’s concern about the habit of hyperconnectivity is very real: as we succumb to it and pass on to our children a great discomfort with solitude and human connection, we do them (and society at large) an extreme disservice.
Throughout my life, the best moments were without doubt the ones I was entirely connected to the present, to the best of myself and the best of other human beings. These memories remain in my mind (and will so until the day I die) as representative of entire relationships: they were the intimate and vulnerable conversations with parents and friends, a class or a training in which some invisible understanding was reached or the white nights filled with the complicity of a lover. I’m sure that each and every one of you has lived such moments and recalls them with the same clarity.
There’s hope though!
As sales of smart phones skyrocket, so does the interest in practices inspired in Eastern philosophies: Yoga, mindfulness and meditation. When the shackles of hyperconnectivity threaten our freedom to choose fulfilled lives, we can also rediscover the wonder in live art, sports, spirituality and beauty, if only we give ourselves the permission to slow down and the courage to meet who we are.
Mixing art appreciation, mindfulness and the benefits of technology (audio CD), French psychiatrist Christophe André invites the readers of his new bestseller “Méditer, jour après jour” to indulge in a profound and an unusual encounter with themselves.
In my case, the desire for more profound and authentic human connections in my professional life is the main reason I’ve decided to become a coach, and I’m convinced that it is in an ongoing training to exist in the “here and now” that lies life’s greatest gifts.
Do you allow yourself to disconnect in order to create true connection?