We are living in a world where we are more connected that ever before -- mobile phone, the internet, instant messaging, social media. Millions of people are chatting, sharing and creating around the world at the same time and new data, information, news and ideas reach us at the click of a button. This communication is merely an exchange of information. True connection, the meeting of minds, and the mastery of networking, of actually being present not just in body but also in attentiveness -- that is an exchange of humanity.
We are well and truly being brain bombed. According to the website Tech 21 Century a University of California study reports that our brains are being overloaded with 34 gigabytes of information every day -- I'm sure that would send any personal laptop in to a spinning wheel of death frenzy.
The American psychiatrist Edward Hallowell said, "Never in human history have our brains had to work with so much information as they do today." He added, "We have a generation of people ... who are so busy processing the information received from all directions that they are losing the ability to think and feel."
Now I'm no scientist or researcher that has spent years validating my PHD on this subject but what I am noticing is this...
There is a lot of "telling" going on, a one-way blasting out of information and facts; we can research the living daylights out of anything online; consume content in a multitude of formats and receive notifications, should we choose, every second of every day. We are able to check-in with friends from around the world daily, we can choose to engage in serious on-line debates and discussions (or watch secretly from the sidelines) and we all love the frivolous conversations and memes that give us a giggle. We network on-line. We know what is going on with the hashtags of #grateful, #inspired, #bestdayever. And if someone could please create a way of making screen shots of food appear magically on our plates that would solve my lack of culinary talent.
The plus, of course, is that we are "connected," the world is virtually smaller and our accessibility to knowledge is right here, right now. There is no excuse to mastery and intelligence building. We are able to change the rulebooks and drive influence, build positioning and profile. The plus is that we know what is going on with our friends, who is having a good day and who is having a bad day -- right?
If Billy has thrown up on you, the car won't start or you missed the bus I'll know about it. But what if you are really struggling? What if you woke up and the weight of the world seems heavier than usual?
How connected, present and engaged are we really? Are the superficial conversations and check-ins creating a false feeling of knowing what is going on? Have we forgotten to ask with sincerity "how are you?"
I've spent the last week in training rooms, facilitating strategy meetings and attending networking dinners. When you dig deep, the mask comes off and the real problems are unearthed. When people are truly present, and not multi-tasking, that is when real learning, growth and connection, with self and others, happens.
In this hyper connected world, which granted is a huge enabler; we need to relearn the art of presenteeism, of focus and of truly listening. We need to do this for ourselves and for others.
Listen to what people are really saying. Ask questions. Be curious about those around you and explore what is really going on. Take a moment to be interested, to check-in. Get to know people -- really get to know them. Whether you are a leader of self, work in a team or a leader of others connection is an exchange of humanity -- so get connected. Get properly connected.
Only when we open our eyes and truly look can we see opportunity; only when we open our ears and truly listen can we hear opportunity and only when we open our minds and engage do we truly "see" others for who they really are.
Only then can we ensure the right exchange of information -- information that is needed at that exact moment, information that is more than a surface level newsfeed or info blast. Only then can we provide connection and support and with it the true exchange of humanity.
This is networking.
This is connection.