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The more we are ’connected,’ the less we are connected

Leave+it+at+the+door+
Carter Steger
Leave it at the door

Generations Z and Alpha are born into a social norm in which technology is deeply integrated into many people’s lives. Every day, I see instances of my peers struggling to stay in the moment, consuming every notification. Social research investigator, Daniel Kruger, PhD., at the University of Michigan says, “Social media platforms are using the same techniques as gambling firms to create psychological dependencies and ingrain their products in the lives of their users.” The fact that information waits at our fingertips cultivates a demand to be constantly engaged.  

 

Staying in tune with every email, text, and social media update contaminates our understanding of what meaningful connection is. Of course, there are exceptions where this isn’t true, for example, waiting on an update about how a family member’s emergency surgery went. But for some scrolling through Instagram or texting someone else in the middle of a conversation “just because” is all too normal.  

 

Dividing our attention diminishes the value of our interactions to surface level. In turn, we can feel, “… sort of stretched, like butter scraped over too much bread,” as Bilbo Baggins says. The more someone participates in surface level interactions, the more it alters their ability to meaningfully connect.  

 

This starts to compound the issue of disconnection between one another. An economic principle helps explain this. The Law of Demand states, “there is an inverse relationship between price and quantity demanded.” When a person’s interactions are not as meaningful, they have less value. This means that to feel like they achieve meaningful connection from their interactions, they must increase the number of interactions they have. One cup of diced watermelon contains 46 calories. Now imagine trying to meet the 2,000-calorie benchmark by eating strictly cups of watermelon. Not only would you have to be constantly eating, but you’d also miss out on better, more filling, meals that make hitting the goal of 2,000 calories much easier.  

 

It is unrealistic to make an argument for eliminating phones or getting rid of technology. It just isn’t possible in today’s world and would be completely impractical. Technology isn’t bad, but we do need to have a measure of self-awareness of how it can impact us. There are reports of many people having a lower number of meaningful friendships and feeling lonelier; when interactions between people are stuck at a surface level it stops us from understanding one another.  

 

A mindset that can help change this feeling is quality over quantity. Understand it is O.K. to not be engaged in all moments; just because we have more access to one another doesn’t mean we are automatically more connected. Connecting with others is crucial to developing our own character, and it is equally important in our ability to understand others. Practice giving full attention and effort to the present moment, especially when it involves interacting with another person. It takes time to cultivate a meaningful connection to someone, but each person has control over how they invest their attention. Don’t be like Bilbo and get spread too thin. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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About the Contributors
Carter Steger
Carter Steger, Editor
As an English-Education major, writing has always been enjoyable for me.
Noah Nelson
Noah Nelson, Editor
I’m the Editor for the Lumen. My major is Sports Management and Leadership with an English Writing minor, and I also compete for the Men’s Golf team.
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