At a very deep level, I believe all humans seek connection with others. Connection is a fundamentally existential concept.
I have experienced connection from a spiritual perspective, the interconnectedness and interdependence of life. The feeling of one-ness I get when I can truly connect in meditation. It is peaceful, positive, and fulfilling. It is a much milder version (understatement of the year) of what Jill Bolte Taylor conveyed of her experience with a completely unrestrained right brain as a result of a stroke in her left brain. (Take a moment to listen to her account in her brilliant TED talk. Her descriptions of connection come at roughly 8:15, 14:55 and 16:50)
I also enjoy the connection I experience through social media. The ease of contact with friends and acquaintances on Facebook, keeping people I appreciate in my peripheral vision, and enabling me to stay close to people with whom I would otherwise lose contact. But I also feel the pull and addictive nature of the online, connected world. I do find myself reflexively reaching for my smart phone at lunch time. There has been much written on this topic already, about how the brain gets rewired, online addictions manifest and attention spans are shortened.
The point was really amplified by this astounding graphic from The Social Media Shift blog that illustrates the representative feelings of over 1000 research subjects, all college students, from ten different countries, when they gave up media for a day. Take a close look at the responses.
|Graphic from Patrick Nouhailler at The Social Media Shift|
Emptiness. Despair. Whoa. (And I thought I spent too much time online...)
If only cultivating a meditation practice, the ability to "step to the right side" of our brains to feel connection were as easy as going online. How wonderful it would be if we fulfilled out existential need for connection at an energetic level instead of superficially. So many questions...
Does going online and consuming media in all forms distract us from connecting with ourselves, from feeling inside, from our inner wisdom? Is it an empty version of the connection we seek? Or is it additive to our human experience, giving us more ways to be empathetic and understanding of others? Are these two ways to connect closer than they appear to be? What do you think?