Don’t Belong Here by Alena Beljakova is part of a series of images that deals with the increasingly insulated and disconnected nature of modern urban life. This particular image is an effective allegory of the modern condition- it shows human disconnection from each other and also from nature.
I was speaking with a lady the other day and asked her to use one word to describe how she feels about her relationships. Her response was, “If I had to pick one word, it would be… disconnected. I don’t feel like I have any real friends, certainly not anyone I would feel comfortable confiding in. Sure there are places on social media sites where I have ability to contact with past friends from high school or past fellow employees or even current employees, but I feel if I lost the ability to go online, I wouldn’t be missed, no one would care. I actually think I’d be forgotten rather quickly. I’m married but I don’t feel connected to my husband in the way that I feel we should be connected. I’m pretty sure that if you asked him what my interests and hobbies are, he wouldn’t be able to tell you. Sad isn’t it?”
Unfortunately, I bet there are a lot of people who feel the same way. Maybe not exactly but with social media, more people are trying to make connections while sitting behind a computer monitor and a keyboard than ever before. Personally, I myself have felt a sense of disconnect in childhood, my teen years, my early adult years, and even fairly recently.
I come from a large family. As a child we moved around a lot. Because of that, I didn’t see a need to make friends, since we weren’t going to be there long anyway, and I always had my brothers and sisters around me, always had someone to play with or go do something with. As a teen, I led a very different life than what one would consider “normal”. I still moved around a lot, I wasn’t with my large family anymore though. I went to school and worked, and partied a lot which sometimes got me in trouble. That lifestyle carried over into my early adulthood except I started making connection with people who some would consider friends and to others may seem like friends of convenience… Until I had my son. My son was my everything. Now as an adult, It is something I am working on with my studies of Spirituality, Meditations, and changing my beliefs with personal development. I had a “best friend” (outside of my husband). Our connection, her dad and my mom had the same drinking problems and we loved music. We met Freshman year of High School. We lost contact when the two of us moved to opposite sides of the Country. She hired a private investigator to find me and it was AWESOME! We remained in contact with each other up until September of last year making visits back and forth to see each other, phone calls, and emails with photos attached. Now, her phone number no longer in service. I get no response to emails sent. She always thought my birthday was 3 days after the actual date. She would call, I would laugh and tell her, “you missed it AGAIN!” This year, I heard nothing from her. I keep waiting to hear from her, longing to restore that one important connection. I don’t think I will ever lose the hope that maybe someday she’ll pop back up again.
So, what is “Human Connection” or the feeling or sense of “connection”?
Some would say it is the feelings of belonging, of love, and empathy. The feeling that a person has something in common with another person, that they fit in, maybe needed, desired, cared about, that they are good enough and worthy of that connection.
“I define connection as the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued; when they can give and receive without judgment; and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship.” ― Brene Brown studies human connection — our ability to empathize, belong, love. In a poignant, funny talk, she shares a deep insight from her research, one that sent her on a personal quest to know herself as well as to understand humanity. A talk to share.
“That’s what Jamie didn’t understand: it was never just sex. Even the fastest, dirtiest, most impersonal screw was about more than sex. It was about connection. It was about looking at another human being and seeing your own loneliness and neediness reflected back. It was recognizing that together you had the power to temporarily banish that sense of isolation. It was about experiencing what it was to be human at the basest, most instinctive level. How could that be described as just anything?” ― Emily Maguire
Studies have shown how very important human connection and human contact (socialization) is. It is one of the human needs we must have to thrive and grow. Without it, we would wilt away. “If you aren’t growing, you are dying.” is the quote that runs through my head. We need to connect with others to enhance our strengths, challenge our differences, to inspire, and… to be happy.
According to doctor John Cacioppo, Ph. D. “The desire for connection is so irrepressible that people imagine relationships with important social others, or indulge in “social snacks” (e.g., photos of loved ones) and surrogates (e.g., parasocial attachments to television characters).”
I hope you take a few moments and watch this video: The Case For Human Connection
I found this interesting because personally I don’t drink alcohol. I believe everyone else I know does. This is how they socialize with each other and to be quite honest, even though I don’t think I would be any more fun, or anything with added alcohol, I don’t get invited to go out much, and I have stayed home many weekend nights while others are out at bars and clubs. Does it bother me? I guess, sometimes. I’m finding more human connection in groups I have actually met online through Meetup.com or by attending seminars. But anyway…
Back to the lady I was speaking to, one thing I noticed about the response I received was that this lady, said that she goes on social media sites, but she feels that if she was unable to connect to the internet, that no one would even notice or care that she wasn’t there. It was though in essence she was saying, that if she passed away, no one would care, perhaps no one would notice. Do you see why she chose the word, “disconnected”?
What if she did “disconnect” from the internet and got involved in other things offline? Would that solve any of her feelings of being disconnected?
Perhaps this story of a man who “unplugged” for a year could shed some light.
“I was a little bored, a little lonely, but I found it a wonderful change of pace. I wrote in August, “It’s the boredom and lack of stimulation that drives me to do things I really care about, like writing and spending time with others.” I was pretty sure I had it all figured out, and told everyone as much.”
You might want to read that. It probably doesn’t turn out the way you thought it would. Or, maybe it will. (smile). I really enjoyed this one.
I’d like to end this blog entry with a thought. We all must have human contact. It is up to you whether you decide to have it all via the internet and social media sites, or all in person with face to face interaction, or a little of both. Whatever you chose, the best way to have the most meaningful connections is to nurture them. Listen to the people who talk to you and be interested in what they say. Try to experience and meet new people by branching out your interests. The lady that I spoke with and the problem she had with the disconnect from her husband, I had to wonder if he felt the same way about her. My son told me last weekend “Friendships are work” and he is right. Making and maintaining real human connection and friendships does take a lot of work. Nothing worth anything comes easy and when it comes to expanding your consciousness and your connection with others, it won’t be easy… you know what they say…IT’LL BE WORTH IT!
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