Monday, August 27, 2012

Connected, but alone?

It's no question that technology is one of the greatest things introduced into our lives. It has changed the way we live forever. It makes our lives just a little bit better, easier, and keeps people from losing touch with each other. If I had a dime for every time I've overhead somebody say "What did people do before Google?", I could fill an Olympic sized swimming pool.
Technology can also be our greatest downfall. And if you have the time, take a moment out of your day to watch this video. I've mentioned my love of TED talks in the past, and this particular video is up there among my favourites. Why? Because it makes you think. And it doesn't just make you think about some arbitrary subject that doesn't really affect you, it makes you think about the way you live your life.
Human relationships are rich, and they're messy, and they're demanding and we clean them up with technology.
And when we do, one of the things that can happen is that we sacrifice conversations for mere connection.
We short-change ourselves.
We're developing the habit of using our cellphones as a crutch. Myself included. Anytime I've had a free moment to myself, I use it to catch up on social networking sites - waiting in line at the checkout, the doctor's office, the bus stop, waiting for a friend. We use our phones in awkward social situations, and even when we're just spending time with friends. It's an extension of us.
But are we sacrificing our relationships because of it? Or worse yet - ourselves? We've become use to forming thoughts in 140 characters or less that the idea of having an actual real conversation is daunting.
How many times have you gotten together with a group of friends and looked around only to notice every person you're with is attached to their phone? While texting, we have the chance to choose our words wisely and even go back and edit what we're sending. A conversation happens in real-time, and we lose the control over what comes out of our mouths. Our emotions run rampant and that loss of control is scary.

We're expecting more and more from technology and less from each other. And it has to change. For the sake of our friends, spouses, and each other. Because when you connect on a level that isn't so superficial, that is when we really find ourselves.

As much as I see this shift happening in the way we socialize with each other, the importance of being alone is just as valuable. When was the last time you sat alone with your thoughts? I don't mean sat alone and watched TV, surfed the net, or even listened to music. I mean, totally and completely alone. 

I think the need to fill our days with "busyness" - tasks, goals, chores, errands, etc comes from the pressure to do everything. My generation in particular is especially ambitious. We want to do it all and we want to do it right now. Whenever we have a spare moment, we're searching for ways to fill it. We can never just "be". We've started developing ways to fill the void of loneliness. But we need to start thinking of being alone as a good thing, and make room for it. By teaching ourselves and future generations that being alone isn't important is only setting all of us up to feel dependent and lonely.

A great tip from the video is a simple one that each and every one of us can use - create sacred spaces and reclaim them for conversation. Whether it's the kitchen or the living room. Sebastian and I have even started setting up a day where put away technology and focus just on each other.

It's time we stop removing ourselves from our own feelings by going into our phones. It's time to be present in our daily lives. Turn off that television program, put down your phones, and turn to the person next to you and talk to them. Talk about your dreams, talk about life, hell, talk about anything.

Make this life the life we can love.

Just some thoughts on this rainy Monday afternoon. :)


  1. Great insights! Thanks for sharing this today on a busy Monday :)

  2. Some great ideas, Allie! I agree that technology is overtakign our ability to interact on a face to face level, and that is really sad. However, I also see that it can be used for making powerful connections -- I think anyone who has a blog started it as a way to connect, either with friends and family who live far away, or to find people they can relate to. It's all a balance, and I love your idea of creating sacred spaces! That is so helpful in this age when unplugging is so difficult.

  3. Excellent! Society is becoming so unsocial. I see it in upcoming interns. haha


  4. Thanks for posting this video! I love TED talk too, and I studied Sherry Turkle in college!

  5. I LOVE the subject of this TED talk. Its almost scarey how we never have any face to face communication any more. I have to make myself put the phone down.

  6. As usual, so true! We're definitely guilty of sitting by each other but each being completely involved in our own laptops. Actually, we've talked about this very thing regarding the whole cell phone debate when we move back to the States. I think I'm going to have to designate a spot to leave my phone when I get home- not keep it in my pocket, not check it every five minutes for emails (because seriously. I am as important as my email-checking compulsion would show!). I really admire your specifically outlining time to just be- yet again, you've inspired me!

  7. @RadiantKristen I completely agree with you! Technology has introduced so many positive things into our lives, and I don't even know what I'd do without it! Especially through blogging and having the opportunity to meet people and make those connections I would never have to chance to make! It truly is amazing, but also important not to forget those people who are IN your life too.

    Sometimes getting to that ultimate balance can be challenging!

  8. LOVING these comments! So many great points being brought up :)

  9. This is such an interesting topic Allie! I always feel so conflicted when I think about technology. On one hand, technology was a lifesaver for me living overseas. I could talk to my parents via skype every single day without cost, I connected to bloggers who related to my experiences of living abroad and I could keep up with what was going on in the rest of the world when I was living somewhere so isolated.
    On the other hand, It is a bit alarming just how dependent we are on technology now and I even get annoyed with myself that I always have my computer at arm's reach. It's crazy to think that we need to teach personal relationships now and I hate to think that technology could lead to isolation.
    It's always good to have a reminder of these things to wake us up a bit - thanks for making me think today!

  10. I love this post. I've been thinking about this a lot lately. I didn't get a smart phone until this past June and I've noticed a huge difference in my habits. Especially those little moments when I'm standing in line at the grocery store, stopped at a stop light (I know, it's terrible), and pretty much every point when I'm alone and have half a second of time.
    You're right about disconnecting. I worry about not only our generation, but our children's generation. As a teacher, we see that kid's attention spans are MUCH shorter because of their overstimulated, cyber influenced minds. This is a HUGE issue that we should really, as bloggers who care deeply about our social media/cyber connected lives, talk more about. Thanks for this post!

  11. @Tina I definitely agree that it's a huge issue! Or at least will become one if we don't think about it.

    ...and I just might be guilty of the stop light phone-check too :(

  12. You totally nailed it!
    I think it's like everything in life, it needs balance and that might be the hardest thing to find.
    I'm big supporter of the TED.
    Thanks for sharing.