It goes without saying that the development of the internet has closed worldwide gaps. Wherever you are, there is easy 24/7 access to everyone and everything at the tips of our fingers. So, why are many of us feeling disconnected in a digitally connected world?
We were forced into isolation for a few years and began living through our screens. Meetings and events became zoom calls, socialising became online quizzes, and there was a spike in social media usage across all age groups. This sudden shift caused an increase in the average time UK adults spent using the internet. In 2020 we spent just over 4hrs a day online every day, with 3hrs of that time on a smartphone. Compared to 2019, this is a 30% increase in smartphone usage. Considering these stats, it’s no wonder we’re feeling digital fatigue and cut off from the outside world.
There were positive and negative outcomes from the sudden stay-at-home enforcement. We have learnt a lot about ourselves during this time. For the world of B2B, we were able to claim back lost commuting hours or add flexibility to the workday. It was a game changer that allowed us to put more emphasis on work-life balance. However, there is a knock-on effect of this. A remote working life behind a screen has been shown to increase the feeling of loneliness and isolation, highlighting the importance of in-person social interaction.
We are starting to bounce back. Our communities are beginning to heal from the social impact of the pandemic. The office is starting to get its buzz back, we can travel again, and there is a new focus on quality face-to-face interactions and events. But, many of us still live behind our screens and are not ‘in the moment’. It seems the more digitally connected society becomes, the more disconnected from our surroundings we are. We are not fully engaged in the here and now. It’s easy to fall into the trap of automatically reaching for our phones and losing focus on what’s in front of us. How often do you spot people recording the action on their phones instead of fully participating? Or, when you’re out with friends, are you updating your social media or messaging others instead of talking to the people you’re with? Technology at our fingertips can be distracting and cause us to search for instant gratification.
We are all social creatures; even the most introverted need to feel connected. If anything, the last few years have taught us the importance of supporting and nurturing our community around us. Whether that is our family, friends, neighbours or colleagues, we’re all in it together. There is nothing like the power of real-life interactions to develop a genuine connection.
We must explore new ways to rebuild that connection and resonate with our audiences. We can use technology to enhance our experiences and build our community, but at the same time, let’s remind people what it’s like to form authentic in-person connections and live life to its fullest.