Connection /kəˈnekSHən/ (noun): a link, usually a wire or metallic strip, between two components in an electric circuit or system; something that connects, joins, or relates; a bond.
People call us the most connected generation in the history of the world…
We have more ways to communicate than we can count, more ways to be famous than we can fathom, and more ways to learn than we can believe. We blurb, we browse, and we blog more than we meet, relate, and care. We believe more in texting than talking. We have so many ways to speak to each other, but we spend all our time in our phones and computers. We are all about tweeting, Pinning, Linking up and plugging in. We have become less about going and more about Googling; we read more Facebooks than real books; and we are less about Animal Farm and more about Farmville.
Yet we lose something in this obsession to posting, commenting, and friending, do we not? Why do we ‘Like’ things on the Internet, but do so little to lift each other up in person? Why do we hash tag more than we help? Why are we so obsessed with making things easier, faster, and more convenient all so we can spend less time sharing and more time surfing the web?
I argue that, in a sense, we are the most un-connected generation in the history of the world. And it’s killing us.
The most important aspect of a connection is that it implies a system, “an electric circuit” in which many components work together for a unified purpose. Our generation, Generation Y, by that definition, is not connected; there is very little united purpose collaborated amongst us.
We can sit in our room and have a face to face conversation with someone 10,000 miles away. We can design and construct cities without ever laying a brick. We have the ability to inspire a worldwide revolution from a phone. Yet we rarely do. Modern technology strives to bring people together to share ideas and create new ones. In essence, technology exists as a medium through which humanity can become more connected. Not only that, but because it exists we have all the power we need to change the world — right at our fingertips. So why don’t we use it that way? I think the answer is simple: we just do not feel connected. Let me explain.
Think of your Twitter followers. (If you do not have a Twitter, think of your Facebook friends. If you do not have a Facebook, you are probably already confused with a lot of what I have said.) Imagine that all of your Twitter followers are actually following you around. Now also imagine that you actually followed around all the people that you follow on Twitter. You would be standing in a large crowd, right? Would you feel connected in that crowd?
That is the effect of social media: it brings people together, but it does not necessarily make them closer. In fact, it can sometimes make people feel more isolated. When you feel as though you are alone in the world, your ambitions suddenly become limited and your vision becomes far narrower. With others, you can do a lot — but there is little you can do by yourself, or so we make ourselves believe. So many people in our generation feel so un-connected that they do not think in terms of “world changing” or “difference making.” This is as much a product of social conditioning as it is one of social media. Problems such as broken education systems, misplaced societal values, and a widespread obsession with being “politically correct” merely serve to exacerbate these deficiencies in our generation. The end result being that society has molded our generation so that there are fewer do-ers, fewer leaders, and fewer dreamers.
Let me be clear: I do not believe that society in general is a chaotic, immoral, and ineffective morass from which we should hide ourselves and our children; society is not to blame for every problem our generation has encountered. Yet our system does have glitches which are in dire need of solutions. The only way to solve these problems is by working together for a unified purpose. We may not be the most connected generation in the history of the world, but we are quite definitely the most connectable generation. Therefore we are the most potentially powerful generation in the history of the world. All we have to do is reach out and actually connect. When we connect, we take the first step in understanding.
Our generation can be the one to stop wars for good. We can end hunger, poverty, and disease for good. We can make the world a much better place because we have the tools to build understanding and awareness. All we have to do is use them. So take a break from reading this and do yourself a favor: Turn off your computer, turn off your phone, and go hang out with someone. Go hang out with a lot of people. Hang out with new people. Hang out with old people, with young people, with people you wouldn’t normally hang out with. Because that is how you get to actually know people, know about their lives and the story they have to tell. That is how you connect. That is how you learn. That is how you collaborate. And that is how you will change the world.
This blog will still be here when you get back.
See the original version of this post here.