'CONNECTED' Isn't Connection

Sophie Turner
Sophie Turner is a passionate Social Health Advocate, Communications Facilitator and Leadership Coach, empowering people - from professionals to leaders to family members - to strengthen the connection and quality of the core relationships in their lives. After a 20+ year career in marketing and communications, Sophie went in search of purposeful, transformational work that would enable her to play big and in more meaningful ways. What she has discovered was an alarming trend rapidly unfolding - the connection between a decline in mental wellness and social health to the increased dependency on technology as a primary means of communication. The convenience of technology has created an outlet that aids people to address their boredom, manage anxieties and fears, to fill intimacy gaps, and to distract them from dealing with the discomfort and messiness a potentially charged conversation may bring. The nuances and emotional cues once experienced by touch, expression and language in the most basic human-to-human conversations are now being replaced by brevity, swipe, and screen time. More and more, people are seen less and less. As a result, Sophie launched The Conversation Project, www.theconversationproject.ca, a space for people to learn about, cope, and overcome the anxieties associated with restoring real conversation with real people …. in a digital world. She works with clients to empower mental and social well-being, improve communications, and strengthen their most meaningful relationships.

Oct 04,2016

We live in a world of increasing time demands and a dependence on communicating through technology.  While technology provides the capabilities for real time engagement and connectivity, it’s ironically creating less – less intimacy, connection and quality interaction with those who matter most. 

The convenience of technology has enabled us to turn to our devices to address boredom, to fill intimacy gaps, and to distract us from those discomfort, fear, criticism, or judgement that a potentially sensitive or charged conversation might bring. The nuances and emotional cues once experienced by touch or a facial expression in the most basic human-to-human conversations are now being replaced by brevity, swipe, and screen time. 

Over the past decade, research has continuously shown the detrimental impact communicating primarily through technology is having on the social health and mental well-being of our kids, on our intimate relationships, and personal and professional interactions. The demand to keep up with the speed of technology is adding to our other demands in life. 

We’ve become a head down society, losing the skill of how to interact once our heads are up. 

It’s creating more silence than connection, more frustration than acceptance, more powerlessness than solutions, altering the why and how of what it means to be in an organic, healthy relationship.

 

It’s eroding people’s ability to relate, recognize, and respond to one another.

It’s changing our emotional development and rewiring neurological pathways. It’s eliminating empathy in the next generation and contributing to the overwhelm feeling more and more teens are experiencing. Technology is overloading our sensory systems, creating new addictions, increased anxiety and other wellness concerns.

 

It’s disrupting our sense of relationship.

 

Through technology we get to clean up how we show up; we control the how much of what others experience of us by editing, tweaking, retouching, or deleting, creating the ‘just right’ presentation of ourselves. We sacrifice real conversation for that momentary connection. Communicating through technology enables flight from conversation, compromising our capacity for self-reflection, proper social development and greater mental wellness.  We not only short change ourselves of what it means to have connection with another human being, we’ve unintentionally created a life of fewer social skills for the next generation. 

Rather than enabling less out life, hold the vision of empowerment and reclaim conversation, communication and connection, not in spite of, but alongside technology.

 

Here are three ways to have a courageous, in person conversation:

Don’t React – Reacting invites in judgement, criticism, and defensiveness. It also suggests that you may be more concerned about being right, winning, or not listening to what the other person is expressing.

Listen – Like Maya Angelou once said, don’t listen to respond, listen to understand. Get curious about what is really at stake here – what is trying to be heard – not just in the moment, but also in the relationship.

Body Intelligence – Notice how your body reacts in situations. What is underlying those feelings? Ego? Compassion? Embarrassment? Anxiety? Excitement? Happiness?

 

What has worked for you?

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