Are we living in an incredible age, or what? Not only are we able to find and keep in touch with friends from 20 years ago but we can make new friends across the globe with similar interests online.
But when was the last time you called someone up out of the blue to go shopping with you that day? Or stopped by a friend’s house on only 5 minutes’ notice, for a cup of coffee and a chat? For me, it's been years, more precisely: decades.
I’ve had several conversations over the past year with women around my age and from various parts of my life (family, high school friends, networking acquaintances, entrepreneur powerhouses, you name it). Despite their large social circles and their personal or business success, every single one admitted to being lonely. Deeply lonely. Like, sit-across-the-table-from-me-and-brush-away-the-tears-at-the-mere-word lonely.
How can so many of us feel so adrift when we’re connected to so many others 24/7?
I was digging a little more deeply into this a few days ago with a good friend. We were out to lunch and she remarked on the differences in cell phone usage among age groups. The older diners didn’t take their phones out of their pockets even once. The two of us picked ours up only to check our calendars and to show each other photos. The younger ones had their phones in their faces the whole time, not even engaging with the person they were having lunch with.
None of these observations was surprising, but an illuminating realization slowly dawned on me. The older folks mostly didn’t bother with technology, and the younger folks have grown up with it and it is their social life. That all made sense to me. My generation, in contrast to the others, has learned and is leveraging technology to our advantage but we remember what life was like before it. More important, we remember what our relationships were like before technology.
In short, we know what we’re missing. And it’s breaking our hearts.
Add to that our stage of life. Again, nearly every woman I spoke with was either re-evaluating her career choice, or figuring out what her personal identity is without daily care of her children, or learning how to parent her own aging parents, or--to make things even more complex--a combination of these huge life transitions.
And each woman felt like she was facing these challenges alone.
So what can give us true, deep connection these days, a sense of belonging, being heard and understood? I’d love to hear your ideas on this, as well as your opinions on what I’m considering offering to help us all find "our people."
Please help me start the conversation on Facebook!