How to steal real connectivity

(making the most of your dead time)

How to steal real connectivity

I drove through the bank line this week (so archaic, I know), and I pulled up next to a car with a mom and teenage son in the two front seats. They were both on their phones, swiping and scrolling, eyes glued on their devices. They never spoke to one another or turned their heads the entire time they sat there.

I’m not judging. Had my son and I been in my car together, we might have done the same thing. But it reminded me how little people interact during all the waiting moments in their lives. How unconnected we are, for all our ways to connect to one another. Millenials are accused of being the loneliest generation, yet they are constantly communicating. Generation Z doesn’t even remember a culture without cell phones. Are people really as lonely as experts claim they are? Or perhaps it isn’t loneliness, but mis-connection?

We are vastly inter-connected, yet we live with people and rarely conduct vulnerable face-to-face conversations. We lack real problem-solving skills and personal accountability in human relationships.

Instead of conversing, we tweet. We scroll. We comment.

Instead of venturing an awkward “How was your day?” and pushing past a monosyllabic answer, we send a bitmoji.

And we lose the moment. We lose a hundred thousand insignificant moments that would speak significance into someone else’s life. We don’t realize that we can steal moments back from the technological cosmos. Sure, an encouraging text message or SnapChat works. We capture moments on Instagram that a decade ago would have slipped from our conscious mind into the oblivion of un-captured moments. With the invention of the iPhone camera (one of the best inventions of all time, I think!), we’ve been able to reclaim moments in real time. It’s truly remarkable.

But I still think it can’t replace verbal connection. When we send a photo or a video, we’re sending words and moments, but are we leap-frogging over the connectivity that happens when you tell a story and interact over it?

It’s not information we’re craving, anyway. That can be found on our media sites. We crave authentic connectivity. Perhaps this is why social media is addictive: we can’t get enough because social media doesn’t satisfy the cravings of connectivity–it only provides an avenue for it.

Where are these moments hiding, these missed chances to connect with people we love? Even a hundred videos can’t satisfy our longings. Anyone who’s lost a loved one can tell you that. A video doesn’t remotely replace reality. A stolen video moment is only fully appreciated with the people who also value the video and interact with you over it.

Maybe we need to set aside our phones for some stolen old-fashioned moments. Try maximizing connection opportunities at:

  • mealtime
  • face-to-face encounters
  • when friends come over
  • business meetings
  • car rides
  • bedtime
  • going out to dinner
  • dead time: waiting for a movie to start, waiting in lines, waiting on the phone, waiting for a class to start

My kids opened up about important thoughts on car rides, in bed, in the dark. Something about the simplicity of space and the privacy of location made sharing easier. These are the moments we should capture in real time. These are the moments that tell others how much we truly value them.

Yes, we’ve all gotten used to conversing with a family member who’s on his computer. We’re those employees who participate in meetings while we’re checking our text messages. I’m actually writing this blog while I’m subbing an IB class. (They’re working independently.) Multitasking is the hallmark of our culture.

But this is not connectivity. It’s addiction to connectivity.

And they’re not the same thing.

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