The Value of Community: Disconnect to Reconnect


We all know the value of community, or think we do–yet increasingly, we hide behind our computer screens, peer into our televisions, send text messages rather than speak voice-to-voice (much less, face-to-face) and tell even our close friends that we’re “just too busy” to see them.

Human contact is on the decline.

We can blame technology, but perhaps the product is the result of an increasing human tendency to isolate. Is the technology driving us, or do we develop technology to support our own fears, paranoia, aversion to vulnerability?

After all, interaction with other humans includes a fair measure of risk.

And so we play it safe. We live our lives increasingly behind a barrier of technology and call it “greater communication” Quantity, yes–but not necessarily quality.

Not to mention, the lack of human touch.

Humans are biologically social creatures. We long for physical contact, proximity, social bonds and general connectedness. It’s vital to our mental, emotional, spiritual and even physical well-being. Yet we are blithely giving it away.

And what do we receive in return?

Information. Entertainment. Shortened attention spans. Increased hyperactivity. Altered brain structures. We think in sound-bytes, losing the ability to memorize, to contemplate, to meditate, to focus, to communicate without a time lapse.

And we are overwhelmed by stress-related illnesses.

I’m far from a Luddite. I love technology as much as anyone. I’m a knowledge addict. But I would encourage each of you–of us–to turn off, turn away from, this hyper-connected electronic aspect of our 21st century and connect, instead, to our flesh-and-blood collaborators in this experience we call life.

Call your mother. Touch the hand of a friend. Hug a child. Tell a story. Play with a puppy. Feel the sunlight on your face. Breathe deeply. And immerse yourself in the sweet sound of silence.

Disconnect. To reconnect.

Dr. Anne Hilty
Dr. Anne Hilty is a Cultural Health Psychologist with a focus on the interplay of Eastern and Western theories of mental health as well as the mind-body connection. Her grounding is in the fields of cultural, transpersonal, and health psychology; she is additionally influenced by classical Chinese medicine, somatic psychology, and Asian shamanic traditions. Originally from the city of New York, Dr. Hilty lives on bucolic Jeju Island in South Korea, having previously lived in Seoul and Hong Kong.
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