We’re humans — let’s keep it that way
I often think about how words can get twisted and end up very far from where they started. For me, the word social is one of the most high-profile casualties of the digital age — and its biggest linguistic theft.
We all have different needs and we do it differently — but in the end being social sits at the heart of what it means to be human and to a sense of belonging and…yes, to feel happy.
I’m fascinated by humans and how we connect. At Leap we choose to describe this through something we call the Human Connection Model, which I think highlights what is missing from today’s very unsocial social networks.
In this model, human connection starts with self-expression — we all want an opportunity to express who we are and in digital terms this happens through text and photos in our smaller circles and in wider networks posting, photo, video and audio. Nothing wrong in that, but there’s a flaw if you want to connect. Life is not just about our self-expression — there are a whole lot of other ‘selves’ to take into account too. So to build on this, the next level of connection needs to be reciprocity, or the exchange of information and sharing of thoughts.
Here is where social networks fall down — sure, they help people get noticed, but they don’t necessarily help them feel recognised. Recognition requires you to listen and share with others, and in small group settings, where people are listening in real time and seeing each other face-to-face, there is a vastly improved opportunity for true connection.
The third level is reached when you really listen to others and others listen in return — this is the highest level of human connection. Here, you walk away having learned something about the other people in the room, about yourself and about the world. At that point you are not alone in atomised selfhood, but one of many connected together — creating a society that works to honour both the individual and the collective.
This is something we are learning through building Leap. In our chats we witness people coming together with their own stories, perspectives, thoughts and energies and we see amazing conversations happening as people can relax and share. Online is the new medium, but let’s reinvent the wheel here — I firmly believe we can reclaim the word social in the digital age, but we need to do it together, and we need to be active about it.
We need to opt into bringing ourselves and each other together. We need to opt into reciprocity and learning. Then I believe we will live in a world where ‘social’ once again means something to us — and where a new type of online interaction can make us feel like we are all in it together.