Friend Request: How Digital Connections Bring Us Closer
As we face challenging and confusing times, most of us have never been so connected to technology.
While social media gets a bad rep from time to time—many people feel that it serves as a distraction from connection—it has been a wonderful means of connection during a time of social distancing. Imagine going through the preceding months without technology like video calls and email!
So today, we’re here to celebrate technology and the many ways that it brings us closer together, allowing us an outlet for connection in even the most trying times.
While it is good to take a break from technology every once in a while, there’s no denying that it’s played a huge roll in our ability to stay connected lately. Let’s take a look at the ways that technology works to foster our relationships and help them grow!
Technology can create a means for connection that we would otherwise miss out on, like bringing people from different continents together. Strategic communications expert, Brook Hammerling, speaks about a time when technology allowed her to connect with an Ethiopian girl who did not speak her language:
“It’s not about being connected or being disconnected. It’s about using our connected lives for meaningful things—whether it’s productivity on the job or bringing us closer to family and friends both old and new.”
Hammerling knew that she might receive funny looks carrying a mobile phone in a small, Ethiopian village, yet it was that exact form of technology that allowed her to be able to connect with someone that spoke a different language than herself.
Translation applications, like Google Translate, give us the ability to speak with those that we might otherwise have never connected with due to a language barrier.
While technology itself may not be responsible for bringing friends and families closer together, it does allow for a faster approach to the art of the long-distance relationship—whether romantic, platonic, or familial.
Some people may remember a time before the internet and social media, a time when the only way to get in touch with someone far away was through letter writing and phone calls. While landline phones did allow people to connect instantly, call-waiting was not always available, and your friends or family had to be home for a phone call to take place. On the other hand, a letter could take weeks, even months to reach its recipient.
With technological advances, it’s easier than ever to connect to someone who lives far away, allowing us to get in touch with our loved ones nearly immediately. We can even use video calling applications to see their face, helping us feel like that person is actually in the room with us.
Meeting New People
While social distancing can feel lonely, it’s easier than ever to make new friends. Social media sites and forums allow you to connect with people who share your interests, encouraging unique friendships and technological encounters.
Websites like Reddit contain areas for nearly any craft, hobby, or interest that you can imagine, allowing you to meet new people virtually. You can find supportive communities that will celebrate your hobbies with the click of a button!
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Maintaining Mental Health
Many people have experienced feelings of confusion and emotional upset during the momentous events of 2020, making it more important than ever to maintain and tend to your mental health. Fortunately, it’s easier than ever to find professional help online, with virtual therapists and mental health applications.
Even if you can’t afford therapy, apps like Mood Kit are inexpensive and based in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, a technique that helps you shift from negative to positive thinking patterns.
In a time of social distancing, it can be quite comforting knowing that you can get the help you need from the comfort and the safety of your own home. Tending to your mental health allows you to let go of overwhelming emotions, freeing your heart and your mind for more connection with your loved ones.
Promoting Creativity with Others
To record an album, a band used to gather at a studio and play their music live, requiring many takes and man-hours. Now, with apps like GarageBand, you can create a beat, send your track to a friend, and let them add their own elements. And music isn’t the only creative endeavor that technology enhances.
We can share our artwork, ask for critiques, and get others involved through the use of technology. This is an excellent time to use technology to broaden your creative horizons and invite others to contribute their own vision. Make a movie or an album with your friends—what have you got to lose?
Connecting through Games
Online gaming is another great pastime that allows you to connect with others virtually. Whether you’ve been a gamer for years or have never played a video game, there is something out there for you in the world of online gaming.
Apps like Words With Friends allow you to play a simple word game with existing friends or new connections. Minecraft and Fortnite might be geared towards a younger audience, yet these games can provide hours of fun for people of any age. And the best part is, you can play with your friends across the country or the globe!
While it is possible to spend too much time online, it’s time to start appreciating technology for its powers of connection—especially during times of tension or even crisis. Without video calls, many of us would have gone months without seeing anyone outside of our own home. It’s incredible that we have the power to connect with anyone, anywhere, right at our fingertips.
So, make a virtual date with a friend or a loved one and let technology work to bring you closer together with your tribe.