How to find true connection in the social media age
There are few things that drive humanity more than our need for connection.
We crave connection with other human beings in order to feel like we are not alone in the vast universe. We want to feel understood, safe, and loved. 100 years ago before technology kicked in people connected in a small social circle. Family and friends lived close together in the same cave, and later in small tribes and villages. Due to our steep learning curve as a species, we started to invent other forms of communication in order to connect. First smoke signals, then men on horses or doves were sent out with written messages.
Nowadays as soon as our alarm clock on our phone goes off, we wake up and check our social media for messages, likes and comments.
We check Whatsapp, Facebook and dating apps like Tinder. We feel emotions like love, accomplishment, anger, sadness, stress; all because of a ‘connection’ through the internet. When our wifi is down we freak out. Did you ever have a day without a phone and notice how many times you unconsciously went to check it? Were you not disturbed by the number of times this happened?
I have a love and hate affair with social media and my phone. It is necessary for me to be on social media because it’s my core business. I love to analyze, I love anthropology and I love communication. I love to research and see what makes humans tick. What I don’t love is the amount of stress that it gives me.
I need to be online 6 hrs a day for work. My private life takes up the rest. When I took a step back to assess the social media damage, I realized that when online, I was breathing from my chest, not my belly. My throat felt choked. My neck and shoulders hurt and I had a slight headache.
And at the end of the day I wondered: who and what have I truly connected with?
Is it the 100 new likes on Instagram? The short messages on Whatsapp with work colleagues? The cheeky messages on Tinder?
Time to take action.
For the last couple of months I have been trying something different. Every Sunday is my ‘me‘ day. I’m not online. I put my phone on night mode and I am just with myself and my thoughts. I finally, truly connect with the most important person in the universe: myself. In my private time during weekdays I ignore all business messages on Whatsapp. I don’t check my email. I am not on Facebook or Instagram if not absolutely necessary.
And what an improvement in the quality of my life and the happiness I feel. My health has improved because my breathing improved. I don’t have to go to a physiotherapist anymore. I am tension and stress free. And the inspiration and creativity it gives me as an artist, wow! Truly amazing.
What have I learned?
It is invaluable for our mental, physical and spiritual self to take regular time-outs from the internet. If you need some support with this, there are plenty of options. Try a silent meditation retreat to strengthen your connection to yourself. Book a few nights in a dark room without your phone. Or if you have the self discipline, try creating an internet free schedule that you can stick with. Whatever it is you need to do to disconnect from the internet and reconnect with yourself, do it!