Connection is the lifeblood of society.
People from all around the world are constantly a part of some form of connection. From texting and calling friends, tweeting silly cat memes, work video conference calls, to the physical world of late night dinners, concerts, and events, the world never stops moving through the circle of human connection, no matter the form. With the new age of digitalization, we have grown accustomed to connections because they are a never-ending constant.
So much so that sometimes we don’t even realize connections are happening.
Oddly enough, and many people may have forgotten this because it is so routine, most of us wake up and start our day with a connection: “good morning.” (Of course we can’t forget that wonderful morning cup of joe, too). Whoever that family member, friend or colleague that may be receiving that “good morning,” people create their first connection from the minute they wake up. Even if it’s the face in the mirror, or a furry or feathered friend, whether it’s the crack of dawn or almost noon, there is connective power in a simple “good morning.” And most people likely end their day with one last connection: “good night.”
The power of those connections and the ones in between is undeniable. Connection often equals emotion, as we are social animals. Even the introverts, who go off to recharge on their own, require connection.
The pandemic accelerated adoption of technology for connections and those made digitally are now of far greater importance. Digital experiences are connecting us each and every day, and our usage online is only growing in importance. However we shape our future, whether we fully accept digital experiences or continue on a hybrid trend, the way in which we establish communities and connect in them are sure going to look different.
We must take note of what we want from our technology in the future, and we must take a step back and re-evaluate how awesome digital tools are for bringing people closer together.
To do so, we should explore how we got here.
Imagine you are on horseback, bumping up and down as your bottom gets sore from the powerful body movements of your brown steed. You are traveling on average 15 miles per hour headed 12 and half miles north from Charlestown to Lexington to warn John Hancock and Samuel Adams about the British whereabouts. “The British are coming, the British are coming!” (Rumors have it, Paul Revere never actually said that but somehow that message was communicated in our history books.) The year was 1775. Revere was warning his community that an invasion was soon to happen. What happened next: the Revolutionary War.
This event of 250 years ago can help tell the transformational story of how we evolved to connect with others. Imagine if Paul Revere texted Adams and Hancock or drove over to their place, there would be no excitement in that story. The excitement comes from the method. The drama as we re-tell this falsehood, is in the waiting. The message however is in the verbal connection, the need we have to share information, to educate others. If Paul Revere never made an effort to connect and communicate, the United States may never have been born.
Fast-forward almost 100 years exactly to 1876 in Boston, where the great Alexander Graham Bell configured the first-ever working telephone. That day, communication and connection were forever changed. Although there have been many world changing events, it seems we forget the deep importance of Bell’s discovery. Over the course of another 100 years, the world would accept a transformation where the way in which our communities interact would be led by a digital revolution.
Around 1885-86, Karl Friedrich Benz invented the first gasoline automobile. In 1927, the first TV was invented and later in 1973 Motorola engineer Martin Cooper made the first-ever cell phone call. Shortly after, in 1975 and 1976, the establishment of Microsoft and Apple were born. The rest is solidified in history. The acceptance of a digital revolution would change the world forever.
Today, in 2021, we have smart phones that allow us to surf the internet, refrigerators that remind us that we are out of milk, and gaming devices that allow us to play with people all over the world. Our communities are able to connect through video calls, chat channels, texting, and social media and that is one special thing.
Digitalization comes so easily to society these days, we often forget that it took 200 years for that change to have an incredible impact. The trend to be digital first will not take another 200 years, it will not even take 20.
Experiencing a connection is always at our fingertips and all we have to do is reach into our pockets (what do you think about that, Paul Revere?) According to Gary Henderson from digitalmarketing.org, “in the United States, people spend 2 hours and 3 minutes on social media each day.” Although it might sound a little scary that we have the power to constantly ping and message each other, that is also one awesome privilege.
Digital experiences are the new tomorrow and they certainly will take us beyond it. Connecting in digital communities introduces paths to emotional connection, and they are unbelievable tools to make meaningful progress in the world. People from all over the world have the opportunity to meet and talk about important ideas from a computer screen. Businesses use digital meeting platforms to pitch new inventions, partnership contracts, and job opportunities. The pandemic halted in-person connections, but digitization has been critical in helping companies stay afloat, families keeping their traditions, and humans to stay connected.
Membership organizations and communities of people must act now to adopt digital experiences. Hybrid events, where every event has virtual and in-person connection opportunities, deepens and broadens connection. Companies have grown on the power of digital connection, and an organization's network can stretch to anywhere in the world because we can all work together digitally. While we are constantly connected with something or someone online, we forget and take for granted that these digital experiences offer the ability to bring people together.
Although the future is always uncertain, the present tells us that digital connections within our communities are the backbone to how society will continue to function.
Digital is beneficial; digital is connection. As the world rushes back to hugs, offices, and events remember the incredible digital tools that brought everyone together during one of the more worrisome times in history. If we are committed to using technology every single day, we must design with a purpose: to bring the world closer together. We must tighten our grasp with digital experiences and we can make that happen with one click at a time.