We have the ability to connect with people ‘virtually’ anywhere and anytime we choose.  This advancement of communication has allowed us to follow friends, family, and even people we have never met through technology and social media sites like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. But somewhere along the way we have neglected the actual connection(s) between people and replaced it with the satisfaction of friending, following, and observing from a distance.

Before this ease of communication, people had to put effort in maintaining their relationships. Without this effort, the relationship(s) wouldn’t exist. This effort included writing letters, talking on the phone, meeting before/after school, making plans to meet for lunch, dinner and/or drinks, but most importantly never cancelling these predetermined scenarios. Unfortunately, the ease of communication has also created volatility within relationship(s). Today, when someone communicates they want to engage in an actual physical meeting, technology has given both parties an out, whereas before this technology was available, two people would be less likely to cancel on one another once plans were made because there was no medium available to inform someone they were cancelling. People were more likely to explain that they had plans to someone as a matter of fact, than keeping options open knowing they could use technology to communicate an escape plan to discard said plans. The connections we share today are severely neglected compared to relationships held by people in the past.

Just because you have access to a person’s ‘profile’, which resides on a friend list, a contact number that appears on a phone/business card or a face that is tagged in a picture doesn’t mean you are actually connected to them. ‘Actual’ connection happens when two people share time together. That time can be shared over the phone, in person or through the exchange of letters. These efforts maintain an ‘actual’ connection because each person is allotting time for another. Checking your newsfeed is not allotting time for another. When someone hands you a business card, reach out to them. When someone gives you their number, call it. When someone makes plans with you, hold to it. We do a great job at organizing our friend lists, but do crappy job at actually being friends.

Every week, pick three (or more) people you know and have lunch, dinner or drinks with them. Start maintaining your relationships properly. Remind that person why you connected in the first place. We can learn a lot from one another, but unless we start using our connections to make ‘actual’ relationships, the time and energy we spend connecting is all in vain. Technology allows us the ability to reach people no matter where they are. Let’s stop observing and start reaching; instead of trying to stay connected, let’s practice staying connected.