Moving Beyond Online Completes the Connection!

A Shocking Discovery

I recently read an article on Softpedia about loneliness in America. What it revealed was shocking.

The article noted  that based on recent studies, the number of adults who are experiencing loneliness is increasing as the number of a person’s “close” confidants are decreasing. Although there were a number of factors noted in the article, in this world of social media and online connection, it almost seems impossible that loneliness is on the rise.

We are a “Connected” World

The internet and social media has virtually shrunk the world so almost every corner is a place where we can have a connection.  That statistically leads to billions of connections that can be made. Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter, Google +, and other sites provide a forum and vehicle for us to make those connections and build “relationships”.  We can go online at any time of the day and find someone online at the same time.  So again, the question arises, why are we lonely?

Connection isn’t Complete

We connect with people through time spent, shared messages, self disclosure, and common interests.  Online connection is a great place to start, but is not complete without some sort of further interaction.  The digital interaction keeps a virtual arm’s length between us and  those we are connecting with. Some of the relationships that we have online may be just fine and healthy in that forum. Additionally that  may be appropriate for many of them. However, the lack of completeness of the connection keeps those relationships surface connections. It is those deeper connections that can combat loneliness.

However, if we truly think we know one of our connections by only textual and online interaction, we need to think again.  The virtual arm’s length allows us to create an image of who we think they are.  Without the further connection, the other person is just that… an image that we have created. By reaching out beyond the image, we have opportunity for friendship, expanded circles of friends, greater networking and completed connections.

How To Connect  Beyond the Image and Complete the Connection

Reaching out beyond the image may take some stretching for us. We have become used to sitting behind a screen or handheld device, exchanging communication in short text heavy messages. We rarely use our voices, letter writing, or our faces to connect anymore. We depend on the ease of online avenues.

To Reach Out to One and connect beyond the image, we have to exercise our vocal chords and make a phone call. We have to get the pen and paper out – or at least open up an e-mail and practice the art of writing. We must not be afraid of connecting face to face through video means such as Skype or Facebook video chat, or physically face to face – of course ALWAYS being aware of personal safety! By knowing another beyond the image we can complete the connection, expand our circle of confidants, and experience wonderful and amazing things!

How do you reach out beyond the image?

*If you would like to join the Reach Out 2 One Project, grab the badge on the side bar. Even if you don’t grab the bade, please visit the survey to help measure the reach of this project.  Thank you!

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Reaching Out – Connecting Beyond Social Media

If you were to ask your social media connections to describe who you are, what would they say?  Would they describe the real and true you? How well do you know those that you connect with? Do you have a relationship with any of them beyond the Social Media image that you know? Have you met any of them face to face?

That is a lot of questions… but they are questions worth asking.

Social media is a wonderful place for connection.  It allows for interaction across miles, provides a place of communication for those who may not otherwise be able to or may not feel confident and comfortable connecting with others to have a safe place to engage in conversation.  It is an amazing tool that allows for the building of community and support.

But this wonderful and powerful tool for communication, can become an all encompassing realm for connecting with others.  I believe that people generally want to be genuine and reveal who they are – after all, that is how we get to know and understand each other. However, in digital connection we lack the face to face interaction with others that helps us to know and read the full context and meaning behind the words we exchange. From our side of the screen, we build connection with a persona on the other side of the screen.  We see a portion of the person, but not the whole.  We make assumptions, predictions, and assessments based on what we see in post, an update or a text.

But how well do we really know them? How well do they know us?

Often times, that person behind the online moniker may need connection and understanding greater than what is seen in the online image.  They may have a need for support, understanding and friendship beyond what can be said and understood in short textual updates. Sometimes, we may need that greater connection also.  This is where I believe we have a responsibility to reach out to the other.

Please join me in making a commitment to Reach Out 2 One person a week that you encounter through social media.  Skype, e-mail, have a phone conversation, or plan a face to face meeting (of course always being conscious of personal safety) – connect with them beyond the image. It may be just what another person, or you need!

Please join me in the commitment to reach out beyond online.  If you do choose to join me, please capture the badge on the sidebar and place it on your site.  Together we can start a movement to Reach Out 2 One!

Please leave  your thoughts on this. I would love to hear how you are Reaching out 2 One!