Obviously there is disconnect. Disconnect between people, community and even country. While quarantine during 2020 has definitely taken a hold of the psyche and mental stability of the majority, the disconnect has been building long before COVID-19 hit the globe. It’s been building slowly and steadily for a myriad of reasons, but individuals have never more felt the isolation of zoom meetings and current social distancing practices, as transparently as we do now.
I recently watched a new documentary in which Minimalists Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus pose a challenge in focusing more on community vs. consumerism, more on giving not taking and more on people versus stuff. Their message within the documentary is the idea of what value minimalism can bring, when you are free of materialism. While the message was very worthy, I was left with the concept that when individuals and larger groups, are not focusing on the important things, that there is an absence of connection and we are left seeking counterfeits to fill the void. (Thank you Netflix, just in time for needed inspiration and the donation pile building in my garage – #lessisnow.)
There is a heightened focus on resiliency and a desired immunity from the isolation of a growing virtual reality and current climate. The onset of a new year has brought visions of brighter futures with stronger minds and healthier bodies. A focus of self betterment that we may conventionally resolve each year. Due to the nature of my work, I am consulted on how to fill the social void and how to build stronger connection amongst remote teams. Platitudes come easy but I personally have been struggling to find the solutions for them, while feeling the same myself. I’ve identified that no virtual interaction can take the place of the physical energy that is transferred when in the presence of another person. We need human presence. Despite the virtual connections we often build – friends and followers on social networks, there is mounting research that leads us no understand that is not the social capital that brings long term happiness. It is the choice to connect by other means, to understand, to listen and to care. It is giving of one’s time and energy that builds community in which we feel most fulfilled. It is the human contact and gratification of connection that brings us happiness. The solution in many of today’s crises, is not found with resolutions of self-improvement but rather on bridging the gap of declining community that has been ever increasing in the wake of busy schedules, social media and rampant ideologies within our society.
In the next year, while vanity certainly will have me resolve to lose those unwanted pounds (I’m a diehard on tradition), I will embark on an experiment to create more connection and build community, even if socially distanced. Not just for myself but for those around I know are struggling with depression, anxiety and loneliness. I’ll research trends, strive to break habits of introversion, and venture out to cross boundaries that will inevitably expand my comfort zone. I’m sure I’ll feel dismayed at times and will have to dust myself off now and again but I’m determined to bridge the gap and offer more than banalities that we all intrinsically know. Join me in my journey as I commit to share with you what I learn, the research that I find, and the struggles that I encounter. I can no longer sit back and wait for disconnection to be solved and community to be built from the outside in, I have the inclination that it can be solved from the inside out.