Are you well connected?
What jumps to mind when you consider this question?
I’m guessing it’s your people network – probably your work related one…
Being well connected has become synonymous with who we know – our direct links to people, organisations and businesses that can help us achieve something.
This could include any number of things, with the following high on the list:
- Making money / finding work
- Gaining access to expertise
- Increasing your level of reach or exposure
- Fast-tracking something that the majority cannot
- Overcoming a challenging circumstance
Then there’s the digital side of connection.
We live in a world that’s become hyper-connected. We expect access to people, products and opportunities at the speed of ‘right now’.
Some might say this hyper-connection has led to hyper-distraction, and perhaps even hyper-dissatisfaction.
It’s rarer to consider ‘well connected’ from a more self-reflective perspective – things such as:
- Honest connection with ourselves
- The ability to think critically, connected with our history
- Deeper connection with other people, through empathy, curiosity and appreciation
Then there’s the area of inter-generational connection and understanding.
Age-wise my children belong to Gen Z, or Gen ‘now’ (the ‘zoomers’). They teach me so much that I could never know for myself.
For example, as Gen Z’ers they…
- Have a collective sense of belonging, and fight together for what they believe in
- Don’t do hierarchy… leadership is something to be earned – actions really do speak louder than words
- Make and sustain the majority of friendships and connections online
- Value short, written messages over phone calls and emails (ever tried getting a teenager to answer their phone these days?)
- Prefer bitesize content over books, longer videos, podcasts and blogs (my daughter never reads or listens to any of my content recommendations!)
- Use multiple devices at a time, and check social media around 100 times a day (probably more)
- Prefer to see real people in content they watch e.g. they trust influencers because their lives are relatable
A new approach to connection?
We’re living in the age of the ‘attention economy’. Our obsession with our phones, devices and screens in general means holding our attention is big business.
The use of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning are huge influencers in this, with the online content we consume tailored to our preferences and desires.
Because of this, we no longer have a shared reality. What you see online is typically different to what your family, friends and children see.
As a result, we’re increasingly being distracted from the real, physical world, and have less human-level connection with each other.
The social exodus
Many of us feel we don’t have the time, knowledge or energy to make a difference.
For example, in the world of social media, many adults are getting fed up and leaving. A social exodus is happening.
Trouble is, the younger generations can’t do this. Their worlds are increasingly being driven online. Aside of education and jobs, it’s where the majority of their social interaction and ‘social acceptance’ happens.
Parents with school-age children will know about this first-hand… have you ever tried reasoning with a young teenager about not using certain popular social apps? Nothing tops FOMO and the fear of rejection from friendship groups…
And so it seems there’s a divide opening-up.
Last year I was introduced to something called The Good Business Club.
Their website description reads…
“Good businesses have a purpose beyond making profit, contributing positively to people and the planet while still being profitable.”
I believe we’re entering a time of real opportunity – the opportunity to do something radically different in the world of online community. I also believe that Gen Z and the concept of Good Business will be key to this happening.
- A new era of online community and way of connecting
- Values-led with clear lines of accountability
- Run by the people for the people (a true co-operative)
- Built on trusted connections
- Commitment to ‘real life’ over ‘best life’
- Based on a Benefit Mindset
- Genuine focus on purpose over profit (solidified through underlying legal structure)
- Empowerment of inter-generational connection and purpose
- Encouragement to spend more time offline in the real world (to compliment time spent online)
- Unifying social enterprises and ‘Good Business’ champions
- Limiting use of advertising, AI and machine learning
And much more.
A personal response
In 2020 I began exploring something called MakeLifeClick.
Its overarching vision is simple…
“To explore a life-affirming alternative to mainstream social media.”
“Established upon a foundation of trust and accountability, MakeLifeClick will become a ‘social centre-point’ – a co-operative connecting a network of people and partners who are committed to transforming people’s wellbeing, both online and offline.”
Some have since said this will be impossible to achieve – that the existing fish are too big, and that the current is too strong. Also that it will take millions to get going.
I’m pretty sure Gen Z would say differently. If enough impassioned people get together behind a cause for good, anything’s possible, right?
Also – in case you missed it – here’s Mollie talking about social media and Gen Z for the MLC podcast…