Is social media actually causing disconnection?

If I asked people on the streets, that is if I could pry them away from their smart phones for a minute, what does connection mean to you? Most would answer ‘time with their family and/or partner’. Except, 2020 statistics state that we are spending more time on our phones than ever before – watching videos, playing games and on social media. Staggeringly, today’s teenagers are spending 7.5 hours a day on their smart phones or tablets!

The increase in digital connection has resulted in a parallel increase in disconnection. The digital world has strained the very fabric of connection of life.

There seems to be a growing sense of dissatisfaction and discontentment. Are we more lonely in today’s world? And yet people seem to have this “love affair” with their phones than for actual life.

I went out with my guy friends a few years ago. After 45 minutes of catching up, one by one they were on their smart phones. Some had felt the need to “tag” us all in to where we were located like that helped them feel connected. Some were scrolling through social media feeds and looking at how many “likes” they receive on their recent post. I ended up sitting on my own with my friends wanting deep conversation. I got out my phone, not to “join them”, but to take a picture of this disconnected moment. I sent the image to each one of them and put my phone away. One by one they looked up and laughed, realising what they had done. They disconnected from real life. We then moved into one of the best in-depth conversations, which we all agreed by the end of the night that’s what we were starving for more than anything else. Only true in-depth conversations can happen in person. They never did that again, at least in my presence!

Unless we stop and examine life and be present with ourselves as well as with others, how do we truly live? All this engagement with the digital world takes us away from being transformational. Instead we seem stuck in this ever increasing and expanding non-essential world.

Life seems to be moving at such a fast pace, we barely can catch up. But is this actually imperative? Living is about this moment. And whilst in this moment, 3.96 billion people on earth are on social media! What are they truly learning?

Throughout the ages there has been signs that animals and plants adapt to survive the urban sprawl, pollution, toxins and droughts. They change their genetic makeup to pass on to their offspring, which increases their odds for survival. For example, birds in the cities have grown shorter wings to better dodge the traffic and fish started to carry a genetic variant to withstand toxins. As temperatures have risen here and much of our country is in drought, this has created change in the animal kingdom. Koalas, kangaroos, echidnas and emus are all travelling longer distances in search for green patches and water. Wallabies are coming out of wooded areas into open paddocks in search of food and going blind as a result. North Queensland cane toads are coming further south as hot humid conditions spread.

The change in environment is happening to fast for the Australian animals to evolve quick enough to pass on to their offspring. Sadly, we may see the extinction of the koala and kangaroos are abandoning their joeys because they have no food to give them. Similarly, the fast-paced society of new technology is happening too fast for us as well. With each new gadget, we lose precious skills. How many of us were good spellers before auto-correct on computers? How many of us had great sense of direction and could read maps before GPSs? How many hours did you spend actually indulging in reading and learning before social media created this short time-span on taking in knowledge? (And if you’ve made it this far, then you are doing exceptionally well!)

When I moved my core values to be at the heart of all I do, I found that social media doesn’t control me anymore or the time I spend on it. In fact, I became disinterested and in many ways I felt set free. Our intrinsic values, that are central to who we are must be found, otherwise we will find ourselves in a spiral towards disempowerment. [If you want to know your core values go here for a free tool.]

As a Gen X, standing between a generation who did not grow up with technology and a generation who only had technology, I always understood that messages without seeing body language, which is 80% of our communication, are misunderstood. And yet we find ourselves pulled into this world where we rarely view body language and emotions are expressed through cute emojis. Being wounded is now inevitable.

The only way I can find connection that brings empowerment and contentment in today’s world is to engage my personal foundation with my communal foundation allowing my core responses of physical, mental, emotional, social and spiritual to expand towards doing what is best for my growth. Doing so in communities that understand me and time in nature allows me then to give all I can into empowering others.