Close your eyes, take a deep breath, exhale, and now imagine the sound of dialing up the internet. You're definitely not relaxed now I bet. If you are not familiar with the old dial-up internet, I want you to imagine this long screeching sound that was nonstop that changed to different pitches and volumes (do yourself a favor and Google this sound so you can get the real idea here). As we know it, our connection to the outside world had begun to change drastically at that point, it became easier and easier over the next few years. Eventually, with the flip of your phone, you could be anywhere at any time and call or even text someone, free on weekends and after 7:00 p.m. Then came the even more advanced, eventually you could be face-to-face in real-time with basically anyone who has access to devices as well. We were able to be connected to each other whenever we wanted. However, are we really connected?
Do you feel connected? Ask yourself that. Have you found yourself in situations where the tone seems off when you are reading a text or you are misinterpreting things that might be being said when reading an email? Part of those reasons is that body language and tone when having an in-person conversation make up for many of the things we feel and interpret when having a conversation with someone in person. Reading their facial expressions, getting to know how they feel around you, getting the idea of the way they are expressing themselves, and being able to read their emotions. The way we present ourselves to others via nonverbal communication can speak volumes and sometimes even act as the better option versus words. Using gestures, eye contact, and facial expressions ultimately will help you tell a story in a way that makes people feel the way you feel.
The reason this is important is that we as humans face many difficult things and sometimes, we need to express ourselves. Did you know that connecting with people is important because social connection can lower anxiety, and depression, also help us regulate our emotions, leads to higher self-esteem, and even helps shape empathy within us? It will also help to improve our immune system. Understanding these things could help you improve your overall life. We are able to embrace people by finding common interests, and different places in our communities, and by sharing our thoughts and feelings, as well as expressing what we may need in order to feel secure and protected. These are all benefits of feeling connected.
We have seemed to have lost some of that connection over the years as we have gained access to all these new ways to communicate. There’s a difference between communicating and connecting as you see. Sometimes we tend to start to isolate and push things off without realizing it. Some people stop leaving the house as often. Phone calls do not happen as often. We are relying on words only. We see where people may struggle to communicate their needs or ask for help. It’s very simple for someone to say "Hey how are you" and the person responds with "Hey, I’m good" and it gets left at that. In the meantime, we come to find out that the person isn't doing so well. We run into times where arguments occur or misunderstandings due to the lack of expression, or people taking things the wrong way. We also come to find ourselves lonely at times.
Since the Covid pandemic was at a high and we had to adjust our lives accordingly, we have made it even harder to connect socially. People use apps to order food or groceries, pick it up, or have it delivered. Staying away from parties, celebrations, or places that have meetings. The list could just be endless here, but the thing to really point out is it moved us once again to the comfort of being on social media or a screen to have a conversation. Now we need to begin to phase back in and that can be quite scary. However, missing that basic human connection can be altering to our lives.
So, in order to change that, looking at ways you can start to get that connection is a great idea. Seeking out opportunities to go for a walk or for coffee with a friend or colleague can be a simple way to interact in person. Having a picnic, dinner, or movie night with family can help bring out the connection. Visiting local parks, museums, or sporting events can help to make you feel connected. Joining your work's networking meetings, in-person sit-downs, or events that are happening can benefit your overall wellness. This is also beneficial in the sense that you get to know people on a more personal level which will then ultimately lead to you being able to communicate more effectively through your devices. I want to encourage you to get connected today, but more importantly, start to feel the connection!