21st Century Connections

The Art of Staying in Touch in the 21st Century

We are well into the new millennia and the pace of technological change is something we have come accustomed to managing and adjusting. Many of us wait on the edge of our seats for the latest version or newest upgrade to our electronic devices. However, in the midst of this technological evolution we find ourselves in an equally impacting social evolution – the context and maintenance of our friendships and relationships. Gone are the days of the pocket address book, the Rolodex or the steno pad of numbers next to the phone in the den or kitchen (heck – who has a phone in the phone in the house these days?). We now live in the “mobile millennia” where our phone and our contacts are constantly at our fingertips; and subsequently the ways we communicate, interact and connect are so different.

The emergence of social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn has reshaped what it means to say “friends.” The simple reality is that in today’s world a person’s friend status has very little to do with how well we know and connect with one another. The institution of friendship has been diluted in depth and meaning by the convenience of technology and the veil of acronyms and symbols in messages of less than 140 characters. What used to be the essence of life; the benchmark of how we measured and remembered things – our friendships. What was so rich and deep it was the subject of movies like “Stand by Me”, “Sandlot”, and “Beaches” (yes, I watched it and I cried…no shame!) has evolved into “BFF”, “LU2” and “LOL.” So how do we sort our way through this new social landscape to find and connect with those friends who are and will be the mile posts and benchmarks or our life? The one’s we will see and share the events of magnitude we experience on life’s journey. How do we distinguish those connections? Fortify and enrich them with more than electronic exchanges? The answer is simple…time.

I once heard that “time is the one thing we all spend at the same rate”, and when I thought on that it made sense. No matter what our social status, our ethnic or political background, where we came from or how we grew up. We all can only spend time once. With time there are no repeats, do-overs or hoarding. It is allocated daily with no guarantees. This is our divining rod of friendships and relationships. The true measure is how we spend our time supporting, caring and loving those who matter most in our lives. It is measured within and without the realm of social media, email and Facetime. The important fact is that we take the time to connect. We take the time to call, text, message, Snapchat, and Tweet to the ones we love on a regular basis. And when required, by desire or event, we take the time to connect the “old-fashioned” way and write a letter, send a card or close the distance and visit. Because when it is all said and done, nothing replaces spending ‘time’ with the ones we love – friends and family alike.

In conclusion, I would like to add that I am in no way “anti-technology.” In fact, I am about as tech-geek as they get and yes, I do have an account on most of the social media outlets mention (Although, I still don’t get the Snapchat thing…). I have a great appreciation for our technology and what it has brought into our lives; but I want us all to take a moment and take inventory of those connections. Reflect on what they mean to you and then take the “time” and invest in them. Give them more depth in your life than electrons on a display. Spend some time making sure your friends know just how much they mean to you…connect, the old-fashioned way!