What is connectedness?
| February 26, 2012
In Life Scoop
It is ironic to me that we are more “connected” today than ever before in history. Yet, living in a city with only a few friends and no family, sometimes I have never felt so disconnected. We have email, Facebook, Twitter, texting, IM, Skype, unlimited cell phone minutes and phones we sleep with, Pintrest, foursquare check-ins and a multitude of other “connections” I can’t even name.
I see a face on the computer while we talk on iChat or Skype, but don’t feel their presence like when we sit on the couch and talk. I hear voices on the other end of the phone, but it’s nothing like sharing a cup of coffee or glass of wine at my tiny kitchen table. I see the pictures and read status updates on Facebook, but feel as if I am a voyeur looking in a window of life of my 654 “friends.”
We have the ability to instantly “connect” to people around the world at any minute of the day or night. And that accessibility has added a new dimension to the expectations of what it means to be connected. If I wear my phone on my hip or in my back pocket, shouldn’t I answer it when it rings? If I am on the computer and an IM comes in, should I not stop what I am doing immediately and engage the person ringing? If I check my phone for missed calls or texts, what is the expected and appropriate response time?
I have a new feature on my phone which tells me when certain texts are delivered. But it cannot say when it is read or when a response will be sent.
My cousin is a doctor. I can send her a text and my phone will indicate that it has been delivered, but depending on what Michelle’s schedule is, it could be days before she reads it and gets back to me. Do I take this personally that somehow in her evaluation that my text or question is not important enough to warrant an immediate response? Do I find myself giving her more response time than I do, say, my daughters because she is dealing with patients with life and death issues and well, my girls are “just” students?
I’ve worked it out over the years with my girls and my mom what the expectations of communication are. But it’s not a black and white definition. There’s an intuitiveness and openness for adjustment as we move through the journey of life beside each other. Sometimes we talk everyday. Sometimes we text once a week. Sometimes we can reach each other just when we need to and sometimes we can’t. And when that happens there’s forgiveness there. It somehow works for us. We are continuing to learn ways to stay connected even though we don’t share the same space any longer.
Then what about budding relationships? There is a special excitement to a new relationship that feeds the connectedness, the quickening of your pulse that happens when you “hear” from that special person - whether by text or phone call or other. There’s the curiosity of getting to know one another – the revealing of self that happens when two people meet for the first time. But for me there’s a place where only an “in person connection” will continue that level of “connectedness.”
Heck, before all the layers of communication available to us today, many of us had one phone, in one room of our homes without an answering machine. And just a generation before that, not everyone even had a phone. The chance to immediately connect with another individual without seeing them in person was slim. Yet I wonder if those generations felt disconnected? Felt disappointed?
Communication and connectedness, in the end for me, is not about the technological ability to connect. It is about a personal connection, a natural hearing and receiving and understanding. And there’s a duality to it. It’s connected and it’s personal. Physically and mentally (or emotionally) in person. And there’s grace in that place. And if that element is not present, writing on the sky in big puffy letters will not get the message across.
What do you think?
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