Artificial Intelligence is making robots more human, and Social Media is making humans more robotic. We are in awe at the humanoid that we engage with at these tech shows and are impressed by how this humanoid can “connect to our conversation.“ To think it is programmed to do so by a human being! Now let’s look at Social Media. We all post such perfect images of our lives that we are actually not being authentic and real anymore – as a result we are dehumanising ourselves.
It is easy to assume that everyone else has a much better life than what we do. As social creatures, we still long for an in-person connection. We are living artificial lives as the images that are being posted are not really us – we are not being our authentic selves. We care more about what we look like in social media than what we really are in real life. As a result of this façade, people are becoming more and more isolated…in fact loneliness and depression are on the rise amongst adults today. This is on the rise because there is a longing for more human interaction.
It would be wrong to say that social media is all bad. It is not. The truth is that the problem isn’t just social media! We are replacing in-person connection and conversation with emojis. We give recognition via WhatsApp and we replace every office meeting with screen time conversations. How do we manage this and connect more effectively with others? How can we be more effective in our relationships with colleagues, family and friends?
Good friendship is a function of time. We need to take time and just be with someone, talk with someone and be in touch and intimate with someone without having to take a picture of it and share the location. Here are some ideas on how to do just that:
- Say it, don’t text it: If a colleague has done a great job, walk to their desk and tell them in person. You want to appreciate your child, let them know in person. Don’t send a text as an after-thought with emojis expressing how you feel.
- Be Fully Present and Tune-In: When having a conversation over dinner, or when talking to a friend during a break. Take the time to place your smart phone on silent and in the drawer of your desk, or in your bag, or upside down on the table. Let’s remember to set the phone on silent with vibrate mode switched off. This will eliminate distractions and allow you to have the time to focus on a meaningful conversation. It gives a strong indication that the person in front of you is more important than the object (smartphone) attached to your hand.
- 20min & 2hour Rule: Spend 20 minutes daily engaged in meaningful conversation with your significant other (spouse, partner, children etcetera). Spend at least 2 hours once a week with uninterrupted quality time with your partner – no phones during dinner is perfect. This fills the human intimacy tank as we are connecting in person with another human being. This connection gets the heart to pump a bit faster, the endorphins to flow more, and the eyes sparkle a little brighter as well.
- Stop, Look & Enjoy: Out with friends at a concert, or doing a hike through nature! Take the time to enjoy the view and the atmosphere. By all means take a picture and update your status. Once this is done, take the time to enjoy the rest of the occasion. Soak in the atmosphere and enjoy the quality time together. No need to view the highlights from behind the lens of your smartphone. You are there in person! Enjoy it in person with your close friends. The nice thing is we get to share the stories with others later on by describing the emotions that were enjoyed at the concert, or during that hike. This makes for great meaningful conversation with friends as part of the 20min & 2Hour Rule. We are also practicing the skilful art of storytelling as well.
February is the month of love. Show your friends and family you love them by making time for them.