Drowning in communication, but starved for connection


Posted on November 3, 2023



Event Management

The role of events in overcoming social isolation

Modern life sees us inundated with ever-increasing amounts of information. Digital communication and technology have overhauled our lives, but loneliness is a growing social epidemic. Let’s explore how our need for human connection is not being met and how the events sector can help to address this need.

Digitally connected

The digital era has given us more control than ever over how and where we work, shop, interact. We have tools to efficiently manage the way we work, meet, buy and communicate. No longer are we tied to the physical world or even having to be present to complete tasks or transactions as AI and technology support us and helps us seamlessly run our lives. Working remotely is now done easily from anywhere with WiFi or a data connection. Secure cloud access means VPNs are rarely required and we can connect from most devices with a few simple authentications. Automated features inform our colleagues or clients when we are on leave or away from our desks, and our smart devices ensure we stay on track and don’t miss a deadline, meeting or important event. The same set of connection tools applies to friends, family, work colleagues, clients, suppliers and companies or thought leaders we follow. We keep in touch through social media platforms, emails, text messages. It is incredible how much information, data and content we efficiently consume in a day without any live human interaction. According to research this year from Meltwater and We Are Social, Australian internet users are spending an average of 5 hours and 51 minutes online each day. And that’s after we’ve used a suite of automations so we can set and forget email sends, online payments and auction bids!

Drowning in information

Before you’ve even finished your first coffee of the day, you might find out Aunt Mary is taking her dog to the vet, your work colleague is on vacation in Vietnam, there has been a change of leadership at Qantas, your boss is working remotely today, a supplier has a new range of sustainable products, the trains are disrupted, there is an event at your child’s school tomorrow, you have two virtual meetings today, your purchase order for a piece of equipment requested has been approved and there is a new starter joining your team. You’re drowning in information and you haven’t even spoken to anyone yet…

A girl sitting at a desk working alone

Socially apart

While productive, this lifestyle is not creating real human connections. The family WhatsApp chat lets you know that Aunt Mary’s dog is ok, but you’ve not actually had an in-person catch up since Christmas. Our digital networks are growing but we’re losing out on the personal, human connections. How many of those followers do we know well enough to reach out to work on a project together, recommend for a role at your company, or invite to lunch just to catch up? Despite our increased channels of digital connection, social isolation is on the rise, with recent data from the HILDA survey one of Australia’s leading sources of information on economic and personal wellbeing) showing a decline in frequency of social contact of 11% from 2001 to 2020. In addition loneliness is reported to have increased since the COVID-19 pandemic, with recognised risks as a result for premature mortality and mental and physical health.

Meet to connect at Cliftons

It’s not surprising that IACC survey data revealed that networking is now one of the most important meeting event objectives. Event attendees are increasingly reporting opportunities to network and meet people as a priority when attending conferences, seminars, work and educational events. It seems there is no replacement for human connection and conversation. Studies show in person brain activity differs to virtual connection. When we are physically together, we generate more creative ideas, learn faster, retain more information and communicate more effectively. We also create deeper bonds, build trust and connection through face-to-face conversations much faster than through written, virtual and digital communications. In a time when wellbeing is a growing focus, we want to bring human connection back into our everyday lives and encourage others to as well. As meeting industry professionals, this is our opportunity to drive change for ourselves, our colleagues and our clients. Talk to the Cliftons team today about how we can help you to create engaging events that create the opportunity for people to network, connect and rediscover just how good it feels when we get together in person – not just as professionals, clients and colleagues, but as multi-faceted people.

People at a function at Cliftons

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