1 min read

Get Outside of Yourself

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There's a great AA meme: "I'm not much, but I'm all I think about."

While we're more connected technologically than ever, spending an average of 2.5 hours on social media each day, people spend less than half an hour each day actually socialising.

In simple terms: we spend 5x as much time lurking, watching and comparing ourselves to the public versions of others than we do interacting with people we care about.

Eesh. No wonder we're trapped in our own heads.

I worry about this social dislocation and voyeuristic approach to friendships for my teenagers, and I wonder about the consequences for their confidence and sense of self. Peer comparisons and insecurity are nothing new, especially in adolescence, but the ratio of time spent connecting to time spent worrying is higher than ever.

In today's individualistic culture, we spend a lot of time thinking about our own growth and development. People are purchasing personal development books en masse, committing to diet plans, exercise programs, morning routines and productivity hacks.

We're worried about being left behind, not being good enough, and envy what we perceive to be the neat, tidy and functional lives of others.

The less time we spend in each other's kitchens and lounge rooms and the more time we spend scrolling through holiday pics, the more warped our perception of others - and by extension, our own worth - becomes.

My thoughts: Whether you're turning up at work or with your friends, it helps to remember that we're all a bit of a mess. Life isn't tidy. Nobody has their life together - even people who make a living from pretending they do and promoting vitamin juices on Instagram.

Academic thoughts: In the classic text Bowling Alone, Robert Putnam argues that a decline in community erodes social capital, creating the breeding ground for extremism and discontent. If we don't get careful, we live in echo chambers that make us bitter and prone to demonising others.

The good news: The most impactful way to tackle your inadvertent self orientation is low-risk connection. Call a friend. Have a coffee with someone. Dial into the challenges of someone else, just for a while, and put your own concerns into perspective.

Til next week.