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Start Making Meaningful Offline Connections In An Online World

America is now virtually constantly “connected”. And beyond America, more than half of the human population is online, according to Mary Meeker, a Silicon Valley venture capitalist, in a recently released Internet Trends report. Right at 51% of the world’s population is online, or 3.8 billion people used the internet last year. And Americans are spending more time online than ever – 6.3 hours per day last year according to Meeker. Another finding or fact is over 25% of American’s consider themselves “almost constantly online.” I would say most of this data comes as no surprise to most of us and is a mere fact that will continue to trend in the same direction and at a higher rate of increase over time. Having a handheld supercomputer in our hand or within reach is a wonderful opportunity for learning, growth, connection to family and friends, vastly improved communication processes, and many other things. Like this last weekend while at the lake, it presents nonstop picture opportunities to capture family and friend moments that are so easily documented and even more easily put into an album for print or online keepsake if one so chooses to organize a weekend of pics into them.

The benefits are endless, but the harm we have yet to fully unwrap or uncover. Another survey found that 71% of people said they usually sleep with or next to their mobile device. 3% said they sleep with it in their hand, 13% said they keep it on the bed, and 55% leave it on the nightstand. The trouble with this is by keeping your cellphone by your bed is, you will check it. Maybe only to see what time it is, but in the split second, you see a “push notification” and you then decide to open it up and look. Or if not “silenced”, there is this constant ding, bing, etc of texts, emails, or push notifications coming in, looking to rob you of productive sleep. Keeping your phone by your bed is more destructive than you imagined. Do this, keep it in your closet and go back to your old alarm clock.

I haven’t even mentioned the dangers of screen time with kids, but I firmly believe we will see research coming out over the next 5-10 years that will tell us cellphone addiction is more harmful than smoking, through an ever-increasing suicide rate, anxiety among kids exploding, and many other intangibles that will be very difficult to even measure or research. Cellphone use can be more destructive to mental health than smoking ever thought about being to lung health is a very real potential yet to be confirmed. As the survey by Meeker showed, the world is more than half connected, but what does “connected” truly mean? The definition of connected is brought together or into contact so that a real or notional link is established. But another survey shows even though being more connected than ever, yet 20% of people feel they have no one to talk to. An internet connection is proving only to be more isolating, even dangerous for some and one’s health. My challenges this week, is to one, place your phone in your closet at night, and two, put your phone down and go have lunch or dinner with a friend or spouse, and talk. Simply talk, without a device in reach. Because the fact is, human connection and human relationships are the only things that have the potential to stir the soul. We must empower ourselves and those around us to interact and connect with other humans in a deep emotional way, not in a digital way! In business, we must work to connect, create community, and create a forever transaction, not a digital transaction. The closer to the “connection” and the relationship, the more trust is transferred or given, and it isn’t through our cellphone.

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