I find myself talking to more and more people who say they feel disconnected or disappointed in relationships in their life. I've been thinking about some of the conversations I have been hearing and wondering, "How do we deal with these people challenges?"
I think our resentment and frustration is compounded as we feel pulled in so many different directions socially and relationally today. As we go through life we accumulate friendships and relationships in each new circumstance and phase of life we find ourselves in. We add to our high school friends our new college and university friends. We have friends from our single days if we are in a relationship. We have couple friends. We have new friends and work friends. We acquire friends from our kids' school yard. And then there are your gym friends or whatever team you play sports on friends. You get the idea - the list goes on and on. I've actually heard people lament "I don't have room for any more people in my life."
Technology has expanded our reach and with it our circle of relationships. Thanks to social media we connect with those ‘friends’ on Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter or whatever platform you use. Or maybe multiple platforms! Along with that widening social circle comes expectations to connect with these people on a regular basis.
At the same time we hear that people today feel increasingly isolated and alone. In fact, research has shown that all this connection is not helping us connect! A recent study from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine determined that the more time young people spend on social media, the more likely they are to experience feelings of loneliness and social isolation. The study included 1,787 adults between the ages of 19 and 32.
The conclusion? Even if you factor out social and demographic elements, those who used social media more than two hours a day were twice as likely to suffer from feelings of social isolation as those who spent only 30 minutes a day on social media.
In 1955, Anne Morrow Lindbergh wrote in Gift from the Sea that our lives were becoming increasingly fragmented. She said, “For life today in America is based on the premise of ever-widening circles of contact and communication. It involves not only family demands, but community demands, national demands, international demands on the good citizen, through social and cultural pressures, through newspapers, magazines, radio programs, political drives, charitable appeals, and so on. My mind reels with it. What a circus act we women perform every day of our lives. … This is not the life of simplicity but the life of multiplicity that the wise men warn us of. It leads not to unification but to fragmentation.”
Wow - imagine what she would say about our lives today!
We only have so much time in our lives. And we only have so much energy for people. As I continue to focus on relationships in the next few weeks, I think the best place to start is by taking a good look at the people in your life. I have created a guide to help you explore the people in your story. As you begin to think about your life and what is next, it is important to consider who you want to be in that story. Take some time this week to evaluate your relationships. You don’t have to do anything except be aware right now.
Sign up for my newsletter and download the guide here and start thinking about the people in your story. We'll talk more next week about some steps you might want to take to have more balance in this area of your life. It might be difficult but unless we live truthfully we won't be able to heal our world - and we have a lot of work to do!
(Note: Links to products are affiliate links. That means if everyone who reads this post ordered the book I linked to above I might make enough for a glass of wine. It won't cost you anything.)