We live in a world that is communicating more than ever before, yet we have more isolation and anxiety caused by disconnection.
Everybody communicates, yet few connect.
Empathy is one of the ways that we understand the language that we are communicating with one another. Yet we spend so much time with our heads looking down into our phones, seeking out the connection, we so deeply desire.
This month, our city went into lockdown for the second time across the last year. It was the first time however, that we were required to wear masks. Something stark happened to me as I encountered many people wearing masks each day. I was confounded by the beauty of humanity’s eyes.
We were created as human beings to connect with one another, and our ability to make meaning from these connections is what sets us apart from other animals. Humans synchronise with one another when we are in proximity to one another, especially when we look into one another’s eyes.
We were created to transmit emotions with one another on a physiological level; this is the immersive experience of humanity. We are hardwired to connect; through the transmission of electrochemical information that we get from one another when we engage in each other’s personal space.
When the brain couples together with another brain, we connect with each other and empathy is enacted. Communication is not just the art of speaking, writing or feeling; it is the capacity to be able to transfer ideas and emotions to another human being through connection.
How connected do you feel currently?
One of the most effective ways that a human being can connect is through eye-to-eye contact. When we meet face-to-face, the change that happens within our capacity too not only understands but to move towards the person who is speaking with empathy. This is the capacity to communicate and connect.
3.4 Billion people currently use Social Media platforms daily to communicate with each other. That is more than half of the world’s population. Social Media is any online space or technology that creates social power through communication. Culturally as we have increased our online connectivity exponentially and studies have proven over the last 50 years that the rate of disconnection socially has been significant.
Studies have also shown an increase in interpersonal distrust, a decrease in unified public opinion and a drastic impact on levels of family connectedness. Social Media is a powerful tool for communication, but it is impacting the way that we as a society, connect.
Language requires social connection so that one can be understood. We cannot just communicate and think that the people who are reading, listening or observing our behaviour are connecting with empathy so that they can interact with us. Communication is more about the interaction than it is just the expression of words.
When was the last time you got lost in the eyes of another?
Verbal communication and non-verbal communication are essential elements of the connection process. Written communication on Social Media platforms removes the emotional connection to the expression and therefore compromises the level of connection for the consumer.
The empathetic connection needs to be a two-way engagement rather than a one way broadcast. This is the capacity to be able to be understood and to understand.
As I reflect on the month of February here in my little seaside town of Rockingham, I am reminded of the importance of listening to those closest to me and looking directly in their eyes. Laying down my phone, asking questions and allowing connection to be the importance of my presence.
What have you been learning over the last month?
Will you join me, in the endeavour to look up and intentionally listen with every part of my being to those who are in my company. This may just be the greatest legacy we will ever live.