Friday 30 September 2016

A New Type of “Being Connected”

This post was originally published on Edelman.com.

For many of us, summer is in full swing. Summer often represents light, relaxation and some time off. Yet today, it’s not always as easy to let go. Regardless of season, we seem to be increasingly tethered to being connected 24/7. Admit it, how many of you reach for your phone, tablet or computer within five minutes of waking up?

But can we recapture what summer once was in an always on, always connected world? I think we can. And while it does require some conviction and willpower, I think what we gain is far greater. I stopped looking at my phone as I walked the 15 blocks to work. I come into the office more eager and ready to get started. Yet, as a social experiment of one, I continue to look at it on the walk home. I’m even more eager to log into my laptop then, instead of devoting full attention to my dog Jackson.

So I suggest making the summer of ‘13, the summer of a new type of “Being Connected.” Being front and center, literally connected to the world and all the things that add context, color and passion to it.

The new “Being Connected” means we have to bring back some old habits and behaviors, which may have disappeared or been eroded.

  1. Don’t just read posts or tweets; read a real book. Yep, I mean the one you physically hold in your hands and have to turn pages. The good news is that there are so many great new works of fiction and non-fiction, and thousands of untouched classics. Reading books connects you to history, to characters, to different lives. Reading books connects you to humanity. And an open book is a conversation starter.
  2. Put the camera down and pick up the fork. Okay, call me a purist (or worse), but it’s getting kind of out of hand when you are having a great conversation over a great meal in a restaurant, and all around you, people are snapping photos. And it’s not just of their plates. Groups are getting up, moving chairs around and asking the wait staff to take a picture (and often with three different cameras). I love what’s going on in the culinary world and respect the work of chefs. Every plate should be tasted, yet does your food really need to be photographed?
  3. And since when did your phone become part of cutlery? Fork, knife, spoon and phone? Make the decision to leave the phone off the table.
  4. Continue to “like” but show some real love. It takes a second to “like” something online, and your friends will appreciate that. Yet, they will appreciate some tangible demonstration of your affection even more. Nothing beats a well-intentioned compliment. It can make someone’s day. Deliver it live — you’ll be thanked and thankful.
  5. Dream of what’s next by exploring history. I think “innovation” is one of the most used words in business and marketing today. With good reason. Yet, on the foundation of every great innovation rests on years of history. It provides a window into why things are and how they became that way. And history is easy to uncover. You can study the history of your town, the history of a country, the history of one of your passion points. And the study of history need not be dusty. Visit a museum. Go to a historical site. Talk with someone who was “there.”
  6. Find a place where your devices won’t work and tap into your senses. They’re dwindling, yet they’re there. Find some place in the country or the wilderness, or even closer to home to look at nature, listen to nature, breathe it in.
  7. Call “home,” to paraphrase E.T. Let’s be honest, it’s far easier to email or text someone. And Facebook has made it so easy to greet people on their birthdays. But there is something even more rewarding about getting a call that says I’m thinking of you and asking about you. Call someone, or better yet, visit them. And really stop to hear their answers.

Don’t get me wrong. I love the easy connectivity that I achieve from my devices. But like everything else, there is a time and a place for them. It’s about choices and balance. And this summer, I’ve decided that while I will continue to be connected to the world through my screens, I will ensure that I make room for a lot more of real connection to my physical today and tomorrow.

What do you want to be most connected to this summer?

Image credit: NeilsPhotography

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