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Video chatting isn’t the point

True connection lies deeper than cool technology

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Folks who last week were complaining about their annoying coworkers are currently sitting alone in a spare bedroom staring at their computer, just wishing for a water cooler conversation.

Managers who continually refuse to invest in “soft skills” for their staff are desperately trying to keep teams engaged and motivated from afar.

And the very same college students who just last month giggled and elbowed their friends when I stood on stage describing how to combat the loneliness epidemic are now putting everyone’s lives at risk because they can’t go a single day without seeing their friends.

Turns out we need each other more than we thought.

Connection challenge

People all over the world report speaking to family members more in the past week than in the past year. 

We are reconnecting with childhood friends and former colleagues at record pace. And thanking our lucky stars this happened in a world with high speed internet and video conferencing. 

It’s a strange and unpredictable time. 

But with all things, we will get used to it. This will become the new norm, and with that, the calls will decrease. Video conferencing technology is currently standing in for connection. Soon we will discover that a video chat is merely a means to an end.

True connection must be accomplished by us, not the software.

At some point talking about the pandemic will be akin to talking about the weather or the traffic. It will become white noise that we no longer really hear or notice, much like how you answer the question you think your coworker is going to ask, instead of the one they actually do, i.e. “What’d you do this weekend?” “Fine, thank you.”

Do they correct you? Of course not. They didn’t really care about the answer. They were just making socially obligatory noises to pass the time.

Time, and what it means

Across the globe humans are rediscovering their relationship with time. Time, it turns out, is at once infinite and fleeting.

Infinite if you’re stuck at home, because what are you going to do with yourself all day for months? How many projects can you give your kids before they get bored? How long can you sit in the backyard without a change of scenery? 

And fleeting because lives will be lost. Plans have been scrapped. Imagined futures ripped out from under us.

For the unlucky, time has never been more precious. And for the rest of us, time will drag in the wake and memory of our shared experience. This is a year we will never forget. It will change us forever.

But it’s our choice to be changed for worse, or for better. 

An opportunity

In this moment we can reinvent how the world thinks and operates. What do we really care about at home, in the community, and at work?

What have you been putting off because you simply didn’t have enough time?

Great news – you can do that thing now. If you can read this blog you can access Google and YouTube. There you’ll find the totality of human experience. All of it. At your fingertips.

You’ve always wanted to write a blog? Start today.

Dreamed of running a podcast? Hit record right now.

Learn to cartoon? You don’t even need paper and pencils – just use your finger and your phone.

Read philosophy, write poetry, study art history, learn to play that acoustic guitar you bought 7 years ago collecting dust in the corner of a spare bedroom.

Invent a board game. Make short films. Sing badly. 

Togetherness

And most importantly, do these things with others. Establish weekly video meetups with friends or friends-of-friends who want to go on the same journey as you.

Instead of talking about the weather, let’s connect over our shared humanity. 

When this is behind us, and it will be behind us, you’ll emerge stronger, smarter, and more capable than you ever dreamed. 

As my client Carrie Koh said in her TED talk,

“Even now, in your suffering, someone is looking to you for inspiration.”

It’s your turn. What will you do with it?

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Are you eager to meet other like-minded folks leading the human connection revolution? I’ll be opening an exclusive monthly virtual mastermind in May. Click here to be among the first considered.

Originally published on LinkedIn.com

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