What is a connection? Two entities making contact? For a moment in time? For several moments, or a week, month or year? Or more? When we talk of electrical circuits, including the brain, we sometimes refer to a disconnect. When something or someone becomes unplugged and loses a power source, all kinds of interesting things can happen. One of the first things tech help told us in the early days of computing was to make sure all our connections are secure. That may be a good start for human connections as well. Check them regularly and take care of them to be sure that they are intact and functioning well.
Consider the term “connectivity.” In computing, it means “the capacity for the interconnection of platforms, systems, and applications.” Should we ask the question of ourselves about what our capacity is, how much space, room or time we have for connecting, really connecting to one another? How capable are we of linking to others in meaningful and satisfying ways? Linking. I watched with some amusement as LinkedIn tried to connect to me, not really to me but to my computer, with a “handshake.” Really?
A handshake in computing is “the process of one computer establishing a connection with another computer or device.” A handshake between two people? Most often a greeting, introduction or a sign of welcome and a human “connection” that is seen and felt. The “handshake” in computing is often the steps of verifying the connection, the speed, or the authorization of the computer trying to connect to it. And if it can’t verify or authorize or if it’s too slow, no connection. Think about that for a moment in human terms. Rejection. Abject failure. Disappointing.
Why do you think technology has taken on human terms in addition to mechanical terms? Is it to make it more desirable, more palatable, more human-like? Or is it that it is our most common language? It probably boils down to human engineering, “the science dealing with the application of information on physical and psychological characteristics to the design of devices and systems for human use.” Sure, that makes sense. These computers were conceived (!) designed and built so that human beings could access a much larger world, make complicated work easier and faster, and solve some of life’s most pressing problems. How’s that coming along in your world?
Here’s the story about LISA, a desktop, personal computer introduced by Apply in January of 1983. While LISA stands for Local Integrated Software Architecture, Lisa was also the name of the daughter of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs and there is evidence that this acronym was invented later to fit the name. Did a girl’s name communicate a level of identity, warmth and welcome? Accordingly, two humorous suggestions for expanding the acronym included Let’s Invent Some Acronyms, and Let’s Invent Silly Acronyms. This makes one wonder about the term “motherboard” and as appropriate as it may be, it appears that “fatherboard” didn’t make the cut. Daughters rule.
What about the occasion when a computer or a hard drive or an application crashes? A crash means that the computer itself stops working or that a program aborts unexpectedly. Something, often of an unknown origin, caused the malfunction. That could range from a hardware problem to a conflict in applications to an overload of the system. Similarly, in our human connections, the problems that cause a crash also has a range of causes. Analyzing the cause may help to prevent another one. What’s important is that once it happens, there is a plan to reconnect if that is desired. “Almost everything will work again if you unplug it, including you. Anne Lamott
We need to be connected in order to have a working relationship whether it is with computers, with organizations, with colleagues or with those whom we love the most. Our connections exist for different reasons and for different purposes. As you think about how we are connected, with whom and why, consider this. There are obvious differences between connections and genuine relationships. You can have the former without the latter but not the latter without the former. Be sure to care for those connections and relationships you value the most by giving them time, nurturing them, and appreciating them. These are the connections that enrich life and expand it beyond our wildest expectations.
- As much as it is about connecting, the essential piece is communication, the interactions that take place after the connection is established.
- In order for the connection to be meaningful, it has to be nurtured and sustained.
- Just because you have a connection, you cannot assume effective communication will follow.
- How many connections you have or how many followers or likes is immaterial. What matters is how many and what kind of sustainable relationships you have.
- The best communication is clear, succinct, honest and strengthens a connection/relationship.
- There are numerous ways to break a connection and stop communication, especially if it is non-essential or unwanted.
- As social beings we are wired to connect and communicate. We seek communion with other human beings and we are most comfortable when we are able to share our thoughts, feelings and stories.
- While some communication – ads, announcements, invitations- is one directional, effective communication is a two-way street, traffic both ways.
- Computers and the internet have the potential to either facilitate or fracture connections and communication. Much depends on the user and the objective.
- Thus far, very little has displaced the value of face to face, in person presence that includes non-verbal signals, nuanced tone, physical closeness and a more complete connection.
This may be a good time to review your connections, see which ones you want to renew and strengthen and reconsider others which may or may not be worth your continuing attention and investment. There may also be some new connections on the horizon that are well worth your pursuit. Remember too, some of the best connections are mutually satisfying and rewarding.