In The Media / May 03, 2017

Are We Connecting or Disconnecting?

This article originally appeared in CEO Magazine

Are We Connecting or Disconnecting?

Has the increase in 'connection' actually resulted in a parallel increase in 'disconnection'?

The internet has opened up a whole new world of content, connections and networking possibilities. The explosion of digital and social media has fundamentally changed the way we function, communicate and do business both online and offline.

We are bombarded with multiple networking groups, industry-specific events and meet-ups through friends, colleagues, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, you name it. There’s even speed networking – an event designed on the format of speed dating, where you have a set period of short time to strike up a ‘connection’ before you have to move on to the next person.

We are more connected than ever before through our smartphone, the internet, instant messaging and social media. Yet the technology that was supposed to connect us and bring us closer together actually seems to be having the reverse effect. It would appear that the increase in ‘connection’ has actually resulted in a parallel increase in ‘disconnection’.

  • According to statista.com ‘The power of social networking is such that the number of worldwide users is expected to reach some 2.95 billion by 2020, around a third of the Earth’s entire population.’
  • Sherry Turkle writes in her book Alone Together , that our relentless connection to the digital world is actually driving isolation. On the whole, she says, we are now ‘more lonely and distant from one another … This is not only changing the way we interact online, it’s straining our personal relationships, as well.’
  • A 2013 study by Hanna Krasnova and a group of researchers from two German universities examined the impact of envy on Facebook. The study concluded that one in three people felt worse after visiting Facebook. ‘Lurkers’ who spent time looking at everyone else’s content, while not posting any of their own, felt especially dissatisfied. This behaviour led to feelings of loneliness, frustration and anger.

Social media encourages one-way communication. Status updates and shout-outs, overloading and oversharing of personal information and hashtags — #bestdayever, #grateful, #inspired — make us look ‘good’ but feel ‘bad’, and appear to be adding very little of actual value to our lives.

If the number of connections we have on social media and in our database were all that mattered then every one of us would be basking in unparalleled success just from the sheer number of opportunities we have to connect. But as we know, that’s simply not the truth.

We are currently doing it all wrong. Our obsession with quantity over quality, with width versus depth, with transactional connecting versus building connections that transform is leaving us feeling overwhelmed, over exhausted, over stretched and over it. Connecting, as we know it, has become shallow, superficial and ineffective.

What you actually need for exponential growth is a network of transformational rather than transactional connections. It’s about connecting in the right way, engaging in two-way conversations and sharing value with each other.

It’s about immersing yourself in conversations that span industries and functions with no limits on the range and depth of discussion. It’s about colourful conversations, sharing different perspective and broader views.

It’s up to you to invest the time, energy and commitment to build quality relationships and to commit to not getting lost in a field of ‘likes’ and accepts. It’s up to you to make connections that matter.

This article originally appeared in CEO Magazine

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