“It takes a community to raise a child” – An African Proverb
There is a paradox at play in these times. We are in the age of globalization when everyone in the world is arguably more connected than ever before. The effects of actions and decisions taken at one corner of the world can reverberate around the globe in a short space of time. A single case of an infectious disease can spread globally in record time thanks to seamless travel and a very mobile population. You can now be “friends” (albeit even if only on Facebook) with people you will probably never meet in your lifetime. Thanks to the miracle of social media, you can now be reconnected with people you’d thought gone from your life. One would think with all these developments, we should be more “connected” than ever. Loneliness ought to be a thing of the past. Evidence however (and maybe even you my dear reader’s experience) suggests that this is not so. More people are feeling lonelier than ever!
The argument can be made that the very setup of the modern society that enables us to be more connected is the apparent enabler of this tsunami of loneliness and separation. Individualism is the name of the game now – “I” has replaced “We” in the equation of success and achievement. We can (and indeed are expected) to be more individually productive. The internet, the personal computer, the smartphone and (by design) social media are all individual-centric tools designed to hook you and keep you engaged for as long as possible. Gone for many is “family time”. The family dinner table is a luxury many working parents cannot afford; you eat what you can, when you can. The gathering around the TV set (and the inevitable fight for the remote control and what to watch) is no longer a fixture in many homes – you can stream whatever you want to watch straight on your personal device. In fact, social media for the many is the go-to place for news and entertainment. Rather than engage in conversations with ourselves, we have head bowed over devices swiping and tapping away. We miss out on the connections around us in pursuit of the endless stream of likes, gossip and the next viral hit.
A wise man once said, the more things change, the more they stay the same. While times and trends may change, some needs and facts can never change. Relationships are the true currency of life. When the chips are down and all is said and done, you are as rich as the relationships you have. We are created social beings – we need real connections to be balanced, happy and fulfilled in life. It is of no use to have 50000 followers on Instagram and not have a single soul you can count on to be there for you in your off-time. It is of no benefit to have 4000 friends on Facebook and have not a single friend you can call to hang out with. We need people to be all we can be!
Invest in the people around you. He that must have friends must himself be friendly. If you don’t invest the needed quality time into you relationships, they will shrivel and given time, may die.
Gbenga Adebayo is the CEO of Livinghealth International; Host, AreaDoctor and Health 101 on Youtube. You can follow him on twitter @dradebayo