Isn’t technology amazing? It saves time spent on mundane tasks, helps us stay in touch with loved ones and communicate with people around the world, and enables us to earn an education, stay abreast of the news, entertain ourselves, and so much more. It’s no wonder that the evolution and advances of technology continue at a pace never seen before: from the Commodore 64 to the laptop, from the flip phone to the smartphone, from Pong to Fortnight and from Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon to Facebook.
But are you familiar with the concept of ‘unintended consequences’? This is the term that has been adopted by Silicone Valley, subject matter experts and the media, to describe the less desirable effects of the proliferation of technology in our lives and our hyper-connected state. Consider the following:
- The average person touches their phone 2,617 times a day (including actions like typing, tapping, swiping).
- The average person now spends between 5 to 6 hours a day on their phones. (25% say they are on it constantly).
- The average young person born today will spend 5 years and 4 months of their life on social media.
- The average person now consumes 4 hours and 20 minutes of television each day.
- The average consumer takes in 5 times the amount of information on a daily basis than we did in late 80s.
- The average gamer spends 22 hours a week gaming
With so much time spent using technology, isolation and loneliness have become pressing issues. Furthermore, stress, anxiety, depression and other negative health issues for people of all ages are also on the rise, with many arguing that technology and the time we spend on it have a role to play.
Introducing the GenWell Project
On the bright side, something as simple as reaching out and connecting face to face with someone you know can reverse the effects of isolation and loneliness. Additionally, research is proving that social connections can reduce stress and anxiety, increase empathy and compassion, strengthen our immune system, make us happier and even make us live longer.
This knowledge is what inspired The GenWell Project. We are a human connection movement focused on making the world a happier and healthier place by reminding people about the importance of face-to-face social connection and inspiring them to take action. In addition to regularly sharing information, research, tips and inspiration to help people create healthy connection habits, we promote two GenWell Weekends a year, in the Spring and Fall. These weekends are a catalyst for getting people to reach out to, and connect face-to-face with family, friends, neighbors and colleagues. Visit genwellproject.org to find out more about our mission, and be inspired to take action and connect with others face-to-face.
National Day of Unplugging: Sundown March 1 to sundown March 2
The GenWell Project is thrilled to partner with TELUS Wise on the National Day of Unplugging, and to jointly advocate for balance in our digital world. If you take the time to unplug starting the evening of March 1 through to the evening of March 2, we hope you’ll consider connecting with others face-to-face, or at least make a plan to do so. Here are some GenWell tips for getting started:
- Start small – reach out to a close friend or family member that you are confident will make time for you. Even better, reach out to a couple extra so you might be able to create a habit or routine moving forward.
- Book it now – we’ve all said to someone, “Hey, we should get together”, but then never do. If you want to start building healthy connection habits, go immediately to your calendar and book it. Send a meeting request or quick message to confirm when and where you are going to make it happen.
- Regular connections – do you have a friend that inspires you each time you see them? Do you play a sport and enjoy hanging out with the team after? Book club? Cards or board game nights? Tiddlywinks? If you have a common interest in any type of activity, consider starting a regular weekly, bi-weekly or monthly event. It removes the barrier of having to reach out again and again.
- Volunteer – find a cause or activity that you can volunteer for that is close to you physically and emotionally. When passionate people come together to help others, magic truly happens. Not only will you connect with like-minded, caring and empathetic people, but the energy that you gain from helping others will carry you forward until your next face to face connection.
We all benefit from spending more time with others and on March 1-2 we hope you will plan to get connected face-to-face with friends, family or neighbours. And, keep the momentum going by joining us for our upcoming GenWell weekend (May 3-5, 2019). Together, we can help make the world a happier and healthier place, one face-to-face conversation at a time.