As people get busy they are unlikely to maintain their community, so if you want someone in your IRL community, you have to take responsibility to get them out there. I recently began scrolling through my contacts and reminding people to come to events with me, or to see me for coffee, wine or a walk. The response level is surprising. I used to focus too much on specific people. Now I'm finding out who shares my desire for more community.
Outside: It's Okay to Be Good and Not Great, 2018-Oct-16 by Brad Stulberg
Foster an “In-Real-Life” Community
Perhaps one of the most detrimental consequences of digital technology is the illusion of connection. We think that if we can tweet, post, text, e-mail, or even call someone, we’re good. After all, digital relationships save us the time and coordination of meeting in person, which in turn allows us to be überproductive—or so we tell ourselves. But here’s the thing: nothing can replace in-person community, and our failed attempts to do so come at a grave cost.
In their book, The Lonely American: Drifting Apart in the Twenty-first Century (2010), Harvard psychiatry professors Jacqueline Olds and Richard Schwartz profile the rise of loneliness and decline of meaningful relationships. An increased focus on “productivity and the cult of busyness,” they write, has led to a sharp decline in deep communities and a rise in social isolation and related mood disorders. Other research shows that physical touch itself is critical for happiness, comfort, and belonging. In-person community is also key to performance. Multiple studies show that wearable technologies don’t come close to the power of “in-real-life” friends when it comes to making positive behavior changes. And this is true at all levels. Defending New York City Marathon champion Shalane Flanagan has repeatedly credited her training community (not her Instagram followers) for her longevity and success. “I don’t think I’d still be running if not for my training partners,” she says. “These women support me through both highs and lows.”
Bottom line: The extra effort it takes to regularly be with others “in real life” is worth it.