The Big Disconnect

Rev. Suzanne Marlatt Stewart

My observation is that the younger generations are disconnected from themselves and are disconnected from one another. They are more concerned with the people on their screens than in front of their faces. They feel the need to fill every moment of silence with something because they are uncomfortable sitting alone with their thoughts.

Last September I was in Seattle twice to officiate weddings on cruise ships. It was obvious to me, the reminder of technology in larger cities. I realized that wherever I went … airplane, airport terminal, light rail, or restaurants … no one made eye contact. How sad. Our society makes it very convenient to just use your phones, whether watching a movie, downloading a menu at a restaurant, researching information, playing video games, or showing your plane reservation through security.

When you have a conversation via text you miss out on inflection, body language, and tone. Even Facetiming creates a barrier of impersonality. It’s not just about how we connect with technology; it’s about how we don’t connect because of it.

The benefits of modern technology are almost too numerous to mention. While those of us who have lived in a time before iPhones and tablets have some perspective on what life is like without them, younger people have never known anything different. This may just be the direction humanity is headed in. Or maybe there’s still enough time to show people that technology is meant to enrich our lives, not become them.

We need to make connections with the people around us. When our kids and grandkids come to visit. I feel it is important to have quality time connecting with one another. Encourage outdoor activities. Play games. Initiate talks about their future goals. Reach out to that friend you have been meaning to have dinner with. Call that person that you know has been going through a lot. Show the people around you that you want to relate to them.

Sometimes you just need to disconnect and enjoy your own company. Allow yourself to have those moments to yourself. Reflect on your day. Reflect on your goals. Reflect on how far you have come. Silence is not a bad thing.

Connect with strangers. Yes, strangers. Talk to the person next to you. I had two memorable conversations on my trips to Seattle with strangers. On the plane I met Christopher. He shared he and his dad had bought property in Costa Rica and were going to plant an organic coffee plantation. The other was at a coffee shop—Nicholas was a senior flight attendant for Alaska Airlines. We had the opportunity to connect and share about our travels around the world.

Becoming a healthy, well-rounded person can be directly tied to the level of connection you have with others:

1. Connecting with others can strengthen your immune system and help your body fight against inflammation.

2. Connecting with others creates a sense of belonging, which research shows can extend life and decrease the risk of suicidal thoughts.

3. Connecting with others helps you recover from disease more quickly!

It’s never too late to engage in human connection.

Rev. Suzanne, a resident of SaddleBrooke, is an independent writer and speaker. She was ordained nondenominational, representing all faiths, and her focus is “inclusivity.” You can email her at [email protected].