Building & The Illusion of Connectivity

This is the excerpt for your very first post.

your-network-expands-every-yearThe photo to the right encapsulates the narrative that surrounds the “connection economy” we live in. This narrative is a story of a world in which people are more connected to one another than at any time in human history and the connections simply keep growing. Through social networks we have instantaneous access to more people than ever. I can snap a 15 sec video and within seconds all of my friends know what I am doing in that precise moment. Even more precise is my ability to leverage live streaming platforms – my family and friends can literally see things as I see them, in real time.

However, the “connected economy” is an illusion. The opposite is actually taking place – we are becoming less connected with one another because of our belief and dependence on the connection narrative. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat – they are all shortcuts. Shortcuts around the process of actually taking the time to connect with people at a human level. Shortcuts around calling all 15 individuals that you sent your most recent snap to and actually sharing with them how you are doing.

This illusion is like swimming with a life jacket on. In a life jacket we are confident, we feel like we are one with the water. Likes and follower requests play the same role in the “connected economy”. Our 5,000 followers on Facebook and our 500+ connections on LinkedIn make us feel connected – one with all of the people in our lives. However, the moment we are setting ourselves up for is the moment when we have to take the life jacket off and attempt to navigate the waters of life. In that moment we realize that we don’t know how to swim. It is in that moment, the moment in which we need human connection, when we really need people to call on, that we feel like we are drowning. This is because we have spent our lives learning how to build relationships wearing the life jacket of social media. It is in that moment we realize that we have been fooled by the illusion of connectivity and instead are more alone than ever.

It is not that social media outlets and the access they afford are inherently negative and have no benefit in the world we live in. Instead, I believe they are tools and should be used as such. Relationships are like building a house. To build a house you need tools – hammers, screws, nails, etc. However, the most important part of a house is the foundation. The foundation of relationships starts with meaningful human interaction. The role of social media is that of a tool that we can use to enhance the foundation.

I think connection and meaningful relationships are the scarce assets of our generation. I am interested in exploring ways to help all of us put down the hammer and the nails and instead, figure out how to make the foundation stronger.

Fear, Tension, & a Spray Bottle

Not being a good husband

Not being a good father

Being a bad friend

Not being a good brother

Not living up to the expectations I have set for myself

Not being able to handle the adversity life throws at me

Not following my passion

Inability to identify my true passion

Not giving back to my community

Not making a difference

Losing my parents

Losing loved ones

Not taking enough risk

Losing my current sense of self and purpose

Inability to adapt to change

— — — — — —

The list above represents all of the things I Fear, or at least all of the things I could come up with in five minutes. The idea of Fear is an interesting concept. It is defined in the dictionary as,

“an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain or a threat.”

At the core of that definition is emotion, which is defined as:

“a natural instinctive state of mind deriving from ones circumstances, mood, or relationships with others.”

As the definition illustrates, there are a number of factors that impact our emotional experiences. It is my belief that while we cannot control many of the factors listed above, we can control our state of mind and how we experience these emotions. Therefore, we can control how we think about Fear and how we experience Fear.

It is my goal to embrace Fear and the inherent tension that is present in the outcomes that I seek and there underlying fears. As I reflect on the list I came up with, the things I Fear are decaying relationships, unsuccessful outcomes, not making a difference, and the loss people that are important to me. Fear, I would like to argue, signifies importance or significance. As such, by embracing Fear, we can use the things we Fear as a compass to make sure we are investing our time and energy in the things that matter the most to us.

Embracing Fear is like a spray bottle. Just as with Fear, there is a tension present in operating a spray bottle. To have any outcome at all we must embrace the tension, and press the handle of the bottle. The mist produced by a spray bottle goes in all directions, there is a level of uncertainty regarding where exactly the water will fall. The same uncertainty of outcomes is present when we embrace our Fears. However, just as with the mist released from the spray bottle, the water or outcome will land somewhere in the vicinity we were hoping for, an outcome that we are satisfied with and can live with.

Will you press the lever on your Fears?