Why is everyone so interested in disconnecting? Everywhere you hear things like: “Screw them! Move on with your life!”
“Forget them! You don’t need them.”
“Just let it go. Don’t waste your breath on them!”
“They’re God’s problem now.“
Could it be because everything in society is about disconnecting instead of connecting? Look at how our lives have changed over the last 75 years. We used to sit down and have dinner together as a family every night and talk to each other. Then television came along (1950’s) and everybody took their plates into the living room to watch television. The disconnecting started. Since then technology has BOOMED. Everywhere someone is on their phone, their computer, or their ipad. Headphones on, eyes diverted, and the disconnect is complete.
The need for connection never went away, but our ability to connect did. The evidence for connection is revealed in the mass explosion of online dating, where you can swipe right or swipe left to find a “date,“ but all of the places where we used to connect have disappeared. Some people think the coffee shop is a great place to connect, but look around you see everyone glued to their laptops and phones. There is very little conversation taking place face-to-face.
Online social networks like Facebook, Twitter, chat rooms, and other social media outlets have replaced relationship connection. Social anxiety is on the rise because people don’t know how to talk to each other anymore without the protection of a computer screen or an iPhone between them. People would rather TEXT than actually talk. Individuals want to connect desperately, but are so fearful of being vulnerable, being judged, harassed, taken advantage of, and deceived, that in order to protect themselves from the unknown they isolate, withdraw, and live painfully alone. We’re creating a society of hermits who don’t know how to connect and who are hiding from any emotional liability they perceive could be the consequence for connecting.
The baby boom generation doesn’t know how to connect with their millennial children and grandchildren because of the disconnect occurring between them. At family gatherings this disconnect is painfully obvious when the use of technology monopolizes and distracts everyone from the opportunity to communicate and connect with those around them. These “older” people who have the comparison of the past with the present feel frustrated, disconnected, and hurt that no one is making an effort to actually see them. Even the family holidays like Christmas and Thanksgiving, that were most commonly known as opportunities to connect with family, are falling by the wayside as the need to connect becomes less and less necessary to the younger generations.
Children as young as one year old are placed in front of iPads to watch movies or play games while their parents watch their own movies on different technology. Teens and their 20 to 40-year-old parents are on their phones texting, and reading emails to each other while they live in the same home. With divorce comes the opportunity to connect with an absent parent over FaceTime, where they can remain isolated in their own home while “catching up” with their children.
How can we teach people to connect again? First of all you have to have a desire to connect. Without a desire to seek change, change can never happen. Couples will continue to separate and isolate and be angry with one another for not connecting and divorce will continue to be the solution (sounds like a permanent disconnect to me). Children will continue to feel unloved and uncared for because they are constantly being disconnected and placed in front of the television, the iPad or the laptop. Older generations will just fade away and the younger generations will never even have known them.
There must be a change in attitude, a desire to put down technology, and a reintroduction to connection training that needs to take place if we are every going to connect again.
Encouragers Counseling & Training is offering an opportunity to learn how to connect with friends and family again. Call us to schedule an appointment with a therapist in your area.