“Get Connected” — What Connectedness Really Means in the 21st Century

The slogan of Facebook is “get connected.” Along with most social networking sites, Facebook is seen as increasing connections between people. In an age of globalization, where the ‘world is flat,’ it is hard to imagine that people lack connections. Isn’t the point of all these advances in technology the fact that we have a sense of ‘global unity’ where anyone, anywhere can ‘connect’? But how connected are we really? Is it possible that the digitalization and ‘connectedness’ of everything in our lives, from our emails and social profiles to professional profiles have actually separated us?

 

If I want to talk to a friend or family member, I can simply call, IM, text, email, Facebook message, or Skype them. I do not need a face-to-face conversation. Now, don’t get me wrong, by no means against technology. These technologies certainly have their perks and conveniences. For instance, going to school 3,000 miles away from home, I can still have face-to-face conversations with my parents every day (if I wanted to). I can keep in touch with old friends and even speak to them with great frequency.

However, these technologies, which took our world by storm, have many consequences that might not meet the eye. Is it possible that being more “in touch” and “connected” can actually make us disconnected from the real world? Most teens will tell you that they don’t go a day without checking their email and Facebook. For some, and I admit I am no exception, it is hard to go for more than a few hours without checking them. Realistically, I probably check my Facebook more than five times a day. My email, of course, I don’t even have to check because a notification on my computer pops up every time I get a message.

 

The problem has become so endemic to people my age that certain computer programs have been created to block Facebook and other social networking sites. During finals week, a group of my friends and I installed a program called SelfControl. The irony of googling and then installing SelfControl certainly amused us quite a bit, but nevertheless, we needed it as our grades were dependent on our focus on our studies.

To stay more “connected” with the real world, namely my studies, I had to disconnect from the digital one. A lot of us agreed that it felt weird and unnatural to us to be separated from Facebook for so long (the long time period of 3 to 4 days). It is as if the habit of checking it has become ingrained in our culture and society. A source of steady excitement and entertainment such sites contribute to our self-image and define us through such digital interactions. We can trace each other’s lives, from activities to events to interests to friend groups. We can see who is friends with who, who is writing on who’s the wall, who hangs out with who and what they do and when.

 

Once you get used to how much of your life is public, it almost feels natural. But is this hyper-connectivity natural? Is it even beneficial? Sometimes, being connected through the internet can lead to disconnection from the real world. The socially constructed world of networks can allow us to project an image of ourselves that hides us and who we really are from the problems we face in the real world. I might have 1,025 friends on Facebook, but how well do they really know me? To better connect, to reach a sense of global unity, perhaps the answer lies in “disconnecting.”

Keyvan Geula is a licensed Marriage, Family, and Child Therapist; LMFT. She received her Master of Science in Marriage, family, and Child Therapy from the University of La Verne, in La Verne, California. She employs the latest research in behavioral sciences, neuroscience, and the Baha’i principle of the oneness of all humanity to serve the well-being of her clients.

She offers her services as a clinician, lecturer, trainer, and supervisor to a global set of clients in person and online. In her clinical work, she incorporates the wisdom of the Baha’i Writings, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy research, Mindfulness meditation, and consultation skills, as well as knowledge of the spiritual self.

She is an adjunct professor of Behavioral Sciences at Citrus Community College, faculty of continued education at Claremont Graduate University. She teaches psychology online to students at Baha’i Institute of Higher Education.

She is the Founder and Executive Director of Center for Global Integrated Education (CGIE), a non-profit Baha’i-inspired educational organization, which explores oneness of all humanity, and teaches the integrated mind-body-spirit approach in education.

She has served for two years as the producer and host of a two-hour weekly live radio show for the Persian community in Sothern, California focusing on the role of the psychology of spirituality in personal and social transformation, creativity, emotional and social intelligence, and a greater sense of harmony in a global society. She also has been the host and producer of TV series called Transforming Human Consciousness for eight years. She regularly writes and blogs on www.cgie.org/blog on topics related to integrated education, the oneness of humanity, the powers of the human spirit in the betterment of global society, elimination of all prejudice, equality of women and men, and education reform. Some of her shows are posted on her; Keyvan Geula YouTube Channel.

Mrs. Geula has served in several Baha’i institutions since her youth in Iran and USA.

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