One of the most surprising things I learned when researching the Becoming Amish book was hearing how connected the Amish and Mennonite are, not just among the people within their individual churches, but broadly among churches and even across the nation. Somehow, my friends with the least technology were by far the most truly connected of anybody I knew. And by truly connected, I mean in person, handshakes, hugs, face-to-face conversations, dinners, staying the night in friends' homes when they travel. I learned this at a time when researchers were starting to look at at the explosion of Facebook connectivity and seeing that more time spent on Facebook correlated with greater loneliness. It was another reminder that, while technology is not going to go away, and we will no doubt use the tools it brings, we cannot forget that we are still relatively the same animal we have been for thousands and thousands of years, and that real and true human interaction is an essential part of who we are and we do well to take intentional steps to expand that in our lives.
Below is a quote from John Cacioppo, director, Center for Cognitive and Social Neuroscience, University of Chicago. Cacioppo is viewed as the world’s leading expert on loneliness and is author of Loneliness, 2008.
“The greater the proportion of face-to-face interactions, the less lonely you are. The greater the proportion of online interactions, the lonelier you are.”— John Cacioppo, The Atlantic, May 2012