In our increasingly interconnected yet paradoxically lonely world, the pursuit of independence, convenience, privacy, and comfort often takes center stage. The prevailing narrative suggests that self-sufficiency is the ultimate goal, leaving little room for prioritizing meaningful connections and community.
Reevaluating Independence in the Digital Age
In an era marked by the ubiquity of smartphones and digital connectivity, it's intriguing that loneliness is on the rise. Despite our highly connected online lives, there is a growing sense of social isolation. It's crucial to reevaluate the concept of independence.
I’ve always valued my independence — the capacity to “do it myself” as your 2-year old is likely saying. While independence can signify self-reliance and personal growth, it often leaves no room for collaboration and community. We end us designing a world where we stand alone.
Unlocking the Power of Vulnerability
The concept of vulnerability, although often met with reluctance, plays a pivotal role in forging deeper connections. Brené Brown, my favorite researcher, highlights vulnerability as a source of strength, not weakness. Sharing our fears, insecurities, and failures with trusted individuals fosters authenticity and strengthens bonds.
Social entrepreneur, internationally renowned keynote speaker, and best-selling author Liz Bohannon says that 1 out of every 5 moms feels she cannot trust her community with her faults and weaknesses. We’ve designed a world where we can’t actually be human. Willingness to embrace vulnerability can reshape our world into something inhabitable!
Embracing Discomfort as a Catalyst
The path to meaningful connections lies outside our comfort zones. We’ve designed our culture to cater to our comforts — door dash supper, attached garages with automatic doors, all the answers and conveniences in our pockets. Of course, connection and community is uncomfortable at times -- the value is life-giving. Stepping into unfamiliar territory can be daunting, it can also be immensely rewarding.
When we begin to understand whatever loneliness we are experience is simply a result of the design, we can redesign.
Quality Trumps Quantity
In the age of social media, the number of "friends" has become a superficial benchmark of our social worth. Meaningful relationships offer greater emotional support, reduce feelings of loneliness, and contribute significantly to overall life satisfaction, seldom do we find that on social media.
For the first time in history, young people are lonelier than our older population. “There is nothing inherently wrong with values of independence, privacy, convenience and comfort. But when we value certain things over other things, we get certain results.” According to Liz Bohannon based on what we are learning about young people's loneliness, “The results are in.”
The Catalyst for Change is You
Despite the prevailing cultural narrative, you have the power to design your life and community. Organize gatherings, initiate conversations, lead with your own vulnerability.
In a world celebrating independence and convenience, choosing connection and community might seem unconventional. Making this choice can lead to a unique form of liberation—a freedom that allows you to be your authentic self, share your experiences, and celebrate the human connections that define our lives.