The headlines once again remind us of the ever-present loneliness in an all connected society.
Instead of pointing to the countless concerns social media brings with its benefits, let’s focus on what we can do to reconnect with those around us.
We were built to be in relationships: good, fruitful, helpful, supportive relationships.
“We are wired for interpersonal interactions. Our brains were designed for it and our bodies react physically when we experience a lack of interaction with other people. Our brains are filled with 100 billion cells some of which exist purely to connect us with each other,” wrote Tracy Asamoah M.D. in her Psychology Today article “Finding Personal Connection in a Disconnected World”.
When I was in my mid-twenties I missed the close friendships I experienced in high school. I had spent the last several years focused on schoolwork, work, an internship, and the relationship with my fiancée. This was necessary and valuable, but it meant less time to spend developing friendships.
I soon learned I was far from alone. Men my age had the same experience. I looked for ways to connect but was left with stale church functions and after work gatherings. I was looking for better ways to connect.
I found my example in Pope John Paul II. When he was a young priest in Warsaw he was well aware of the difficulties of getting men to come to church, so he found another way to connect. He enjoyed hiking, and so began to invite men to go hiking with him. This was an invitation to get away, to enjoy an activity, and to talk in a comfortable setting. It was an activity that opened the door to connecting with others.
Few people are intentional when it comes to building relationships. Life is happening to them and around them, and they simply just react to it. What a disconnected world is in need of, are more hosts, intentional inviters.
If we are lonely, or concerned about the loneliness of others, we must create a gateway to relationship building. Business societies, book clubs, outdoor adventures, wine night, and the list goes on. You might think, “Aren’t those already happening?” Yes, but not at a scale to serve many or with a focus on the individual.
I was never invited to do anything, so I started something myself and invited others. Twenty-five years ago, I started a trip in May where I go on an outdoor adventure to the mountains, ocean, desert, lakes, etc. I invited one person to go. He went and so began a tradition of inviting more people each year. Over the years, more than 100 men have attended and continue to participate, but even better, countless relationships developed from these excursions.
If you want to connect the world and be connected to it, be a host.
Everyone won’t say yes to an invitation, but everyone wants to be invited. This is the start to building connectivity in a disconnected world.
“Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: “What! You too? I thought I was the only one,” wrote C.S. Lewis in his book “Four Loves”.
Don’t wait to be invited, be the inviter.