Cyber-toothed tiger loose

As my friend, Jeff said, beware the cyber-toothed tiger. This is good advice to follow because it may bite you in unexpected ways.

Technological advances have done much to offer us new ways to connect more widely with the world. Information, entertainment, and social connection are now at our fingertips.

Why on earth would I venture out to attend a local event when I can listen to world-leading experts in my PJs for free?

Many people are opting to attend lectures and church services without ever leaving their homes. Convenient, for sure, but we’re robbing ourselves of an important basic need — human connection.

While at times, it’s lovely to attend lectures and concerts virtually from the comfort of our homes, with the wider virtual connection comes the risk of reducing real connection with other human beings.

Instead of feeling more connected to one another, the number of people feeling lonely and isolated is on the rise globally. Our increased ability to connect virtually has left us feeling more alone and lacking in close, caring relationships.

Compelling research reveals a correlation between use of social media and increased experiences of isolation, depression, anxiety, pain, and poor sleep quality. The more one partakes in the use of social media, the higher the incidence.

Research conducted at UCLA revealed social isolation also affects us physically.

Feelings of loneliness trigger cellular changes causing chronic inflammation, and predisposing lonely
people to:

  • Heart disease
  • Alzheimer’s
  • Stroke
  • Metastatic cancer.

Mortality has increased by 26%.

We are social creatures, and benefit from being in close proximity to others and developing caring, supportive relationships.

Making the effort to form social connections, to find or create a community is a powerful way to overcome or prevent loneliness.

I love the word community; it reminds me we are coming together in a common unity, gathering for a common purpose. Community not only supports our common interest or purpose, it enlivens and supports us and our health.

Trading our devices for time spent with real people, gathering, and making connection promotes mental and physical well-being. Taking time to attend social gatherings and services matters, and is a way to build meaningful community that nourishes us.

Mahatma Gandhi said, “Be the change you want to see in this world.”

I’ve taken his words to heart and recognize the importance of not waiting on another to create what I am seeking.

This time of year, there are so many opportunities to create connection and community.

Many of our daughter’s friends in Vancouver live away from their families, and would be spending the holidays alone. Our daughter decided to continue our family tradition of extending her table, inviting others who would otherwise be alone for the holidays.

Each person will be adding to the table by sharing a dish coming from their family traditions. It’s going to be a global Christmas, as many countries will be represented.

The recipes are out, planning is underway, and people are excited. A sense of warmth and community is already building, as stories of family traditions and their meanings are being shared.

Many of these people have never met, but they soon will. It’s exciting.

So simple, so meaningful. One person can start a chain of connection, drawing others in, turning what could be a lonely day into one where new friendships are made.

Who can you invite into your circle, extending the gift of your presence, creating community, and being the change you’d love to see in this world?


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About the Author

Corinne is first a wife, mother, and grandmother, whose eclectic background has created a rich alchemy that serves to inform her perspectives on life.

Corinne, a registered nurse with a master’s degree in Health Science, is a staff minister with the Centre for Spiritual Living Kelowna, and a hospice volunteer. She is an adjunct professor with the school of nursing  at UBC Okanagan, and is currently teaching smartUBC, a unique Mindfulness program offered at UBC, to the public. She is an invited speaker and presenter.

From diverse experience and knowledge, personally and professionally, Corinne has developed an extraordinary passion for helping people to gain a new perspective, awaken, and to recognize that we do not have to be a slave to our thoughts or to life; we are always at a point of change.

Through this column, Corinne blends her insights and research to provide food for the mind and the heart, to encourage an awakening of the power and potential within everyone.

Corinne lives in Kelowna with her husband of 41 years, and can be reached at [email protected].

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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