Photo by Gabriel on Unsplash

(Dis)connection

Alex de Panama

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In a world of constant distraction and dopamine, it’s easy to feel like you’re in a bubble of your own.

If you live in a city, you will pass hundreds of faces every day. You see more people on your way to work than our ancestors saw in a lifetime.

Technology has made our lives easier and more convenient. You can order a meal and have it on your table in less than 20 minutes. You can stay in touch with family on the opposite side of the world with the tap of a button.

But we have never been more desperate for connection.

I find the worst example of this in a coffee shop. You join a queue, and everyone has their head down, gazing at their phones. How can you be surrounded by people, yet feel no sense of belonging? For those of us feeling lonely, it can drive that feeling home.

Dating is now only online, a revolving door of potential suitors. We see people as disposable and transactional. We barely read one sentence about a person before dismissing them with a simple swipe.

Loneliness is a growing problem. 25% of UK adults report feeling lonely always, often, or some of the time (Office for National Statistics, 2022)

But there are flickers of connection if you look hard enough.

It’s there in the smile you show the stranger walking past (and hopefully seeing them smile back at you).

It’s there when you pick up something dropped by someone in the supermarket, and they say thank you.

It’s there when you give up your seat for someone on the bus or offer to help someone with their bags as they get off.

It’s there when someone holds open a door for you.

It’s there when you compliment someone’s outfit, or they compliment yours.

It’s understandable to get caught up in this new way of living and feel disconnected. And yes, it is a lot harder than it used to be.

If you search for opportunities, you might be surprised at what can happen. Try smiling at someone as you walk down the street. The feeling as they smile back is powerful and will make your day just a little brighter.

We have so little of each other, now. So far
from tribe and fire. Only these brief moments of exchange.
What if they are the true dwelling of the holy, these
fleeting temples we make together when we say, “Here,
have my seat,” “Go ahead — you first,” “I like your hat.”

Danusha Laméris, Small Kindnesses

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Alex de Panama

An ex-primary school teacher on a journey of career fulfilment and self discovery.