“Human connection is the most vital aspect of our existence, without the sweet touch of another human being we are lonely stars in an empty space waiting to shine gloriously.” Joe Straynge

What does it take to find happiness?  What makes you happy?  For each of us the answer to that question varies.  Some of us might answer friends and family, while others might find happiness in nature, and still others might connect their sense of well-being to material belongings.  My 15 year old, for example, would connect his life’s satisfaction to his iPhone. 

The cellular phone, a small, seemingly innocuous device, began with the sole purpose of making phone calls.  According to some consumer experts, this device took twelve years to penetrate society (the benchmark being a reach of 50 million people).  To have a point of comparison, the radio took thirty-eight years, the telephone took twenty years, followed by the television which took thirteen years.  But we all know that what really revolutionized the cellular phone was the Internet, taking only four years after its market introduction to penetrate society.  With the Internet, the platform was now provided for Social Media, starting with MySpace, which was rapidly overtaken by Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, WhatsApp, Snapchat, and the list continues.  Cellular phones, then morphed into smart phones allowing us to carry a plethora of information at our fingertips and social interaction at will in our back pockets.

Through these platforms we are now able to create large groups of “friends” or “followers”, both known and unknown, and to communicate with these groups at any given moment throughout the day.  People are now able to live out their “best” lives with the hope to gain “likes” and recognition.  Families eat dinner while gazing distractedly at texts, chats, and emails.  Kids get together, sitting side by side with their eyes glued to their devices and their fingers furiously tapping away.  And while one may argue that one purpose of these advancements was to allow us to become more connected, we are left wondering ~ Is this is really the case?  Have we “liked” “tweeted” and “friended” our way into loneliness and disconnectedness?

Have we lost the art and importance of human contact and socialization?  With summer being the most social season, perhaps now is as good a time as any to contemplate our human connection.  Dr. Joanne Cacciatore states that “There simply is no pill that can replace human connection.  There is no pharmacy that can fill the need for compassionate interaction with others.  There is no panacea.  The answer to human suffering is both within us and between us.”  By nature, we are social beings, with touch being the first of the five senses to develop and a fundamental human need.  In fact, one way that the feel-good hormone oxytocin is released is through human touch.  There is also such value in face-to-face interaction.  Non-verbal cues, such as body language and facial expressions, are just as crucial when communicating as the words we say.  We learn how to communicate effectively, as well as developing empathy toward others through in-person communication.

I always try to look on the positive side of things.  I continue to believe that there is great benefit that has come with our technological advances.  But with this benefit, we should not lose sight of our human nature and need for human touch and face-to-face socialization.  So as you make plans during the remaining long summer days, why not plan some face to face time with friends and family ~ maybe hike, kayak, share some coffee or ice cream, cook a meal together, sit outside and listen to music or try a new outing/hobby like rock climbing, knitting, golf, or kickball.  But most of all ~ be happy!