What does “connectedness” mean for you?
Connectedness. What does that mean? Most importantly, what does that mean to you?
Connectedness has traditionally meant literal, human connection. It’s been the act of it, when you sit down for a glass of wine with a friend, and talk about your relationship, or your boss, or your herniated disc. Or human connectedness is when you nearly double over with laughter while sharing a joke with your partner, or it could be a visit with your mom. It could also mean mentoring others. Volunteering. Even sharing a smile.
Lately with the rise in digital communication, the idea of connectedness has been challenged. What’s important to note, though, is that it hasn’t necessarily diminished. In fact, “virtual” communication, while not a substitute for its in-person counterpart, has its own virtues as a means of connecting with others. It can even enhance and facilitate deep levels of human connectedness. For starters, you can literally find nearly all of your high school classmates. You can even make new friends through meet-up groups, or find a life partner through a matchmaking site. You can network, grow your career. Communicate with several friends at once—and connect with more human beings than ever before. And those human beings could be on the other side of the planet. (When has there ever been a time when a U.S. soldier in Afghanistan could ask a famous, L.A.-based movie star out on a date? Via YouTube, with a video that went viral. And, to top it off, to have that celebrity say, “Yes?”)
Of course, virtual communication is useful and wonderful for another reason, too: Blogging (as you know). Whether through tweeting, posting Facebook status updates or writing a 1000-word blog entry, we human beings now have the ability to share our thoughts with the world more than ever. We have the ability to influence others, and through doing so, connect with human beings—hundreds, thousands, millions of them. It’s unprecedented in our human history, and it’s changing our relationships. It’s changing our lives. It’s a platform to empower us, to allow us to shine.
So how do we navigate this new, uncharted landscape? As with most everything in life, it comes down to balance. A recent (and highly publicized) survey by the dating site okcupid.com showed that frequent Twitter users experienced shorter relationships/more break-ups. OK. Perhaps those people were substituting their Twitter communication for valuable relationship-centric connections. You can’t have a solely virtual relationship. That’s like falling in love with a fictional movie character. It will be empty on too many levels.
Of course, these days, it’s nearly impossible to live a life without digital influences and platforms. But why would you want to? Recent research by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press found that virtual communication has extremely positive effects on human wellbeing and social connections. To paraphrase some of the findings, for example, Facebook users were found to have more social support and a greater sense of political engagement than non-Facebookers.
The key to navigating our digital landscape is balance. Truth is, nothing can replace actual, physical, human connectedness. It’s an essential ingredient for emotional health. We need deep, human connectedness like we need oxygen and vitamin C. If most of your social interaction is through your computer, and you start to feel lonely or even disconnected (lack of actual human interaction has been shown to lead to symptoms of depression), create time for physical interaction with your friends and family members. It’s like balancing your affection for hard cheese with a healthy salad, for lunch. And that salad can still taste really, really good. It can nourish you. And you can add some of that cheese, for taste, protein and some calcium. It’s about getting the best from both—and using one to enhance the other.
Essentially, virtual communication isn’t supposed to be a replacement for actual human connectedness. It’s an enhancement. It’s an opportunity, and organizations like PepsiCo WIN and BlogHer make that possible. In fact, BlogHer and Pepsi have connected us: here, through this blog, but also in person, 3,600 strong at the BlogHer 2011 Conference. In this way, virtual communication is empowering—life expanding. It can increase our friendships; deepen our relationships with people we may not have otherwise had the chance to meet. It can make our lives that much sweeter.
What does connectedness mean to you? How has the connectedness in your life been affected by your personal digital landscape?
Go to Pepsicowin.com to read more!