What the Internet Can Teach Us About Human Connections

by Julian S. Newman

Most of us sit here with mobile phones that give us the option to tweet, post, text, surf the internet, send memes, check instagram, call, video, pics etc. 

It’s absolutely awesome. 

The explosion in fiber-optic bandwidth and wireless networks have given us exponential access and opportunities. In the early days of the internet, what’s now commonplace was completely unthinkable. 

When AOL, Yahoo, and Alta Vista ruled the internet roost, you could either check your email and look at a few pixelated images or talk on a telephone that was fastened to a wall. 

A very loud and bulky thing called a modem made all of this technological amazingness possible. That was the absolute limit of the internet landscape back in the day. 

In what seems like a blink of time, the internet went from two lane dirt road in the country to a 100 billion lane superhighway with a multiverse of possibilities. 

With the exponential expansion of bandwidth anything and everything now seems possible. Ironically while we have this expanded technological bandwidth, this same technology creates a more compartmentalized world. 

Paradoxically, as we are electronically linked to different people, cultures, and colors we are also digitally divided. 

We erect digital walls of separation that keep us segregated. 

Connected through machines while being disconnected as people. 

Wielding the power for massive digital exposure to humans a world away, with no plan or opportunity to have a human experience with humans like them in our neighborhood. 

Globally linked. 

Locally unlinked. 

And rather than press past these digital walls of separation, we surrender to them. 

We “Netflix” ourselves. 

You know how Netflix suggests one movie because of the one you just watched? 

Then you watch that one, and it gives you another one like the other one, that was like the other one that you watched at the beginning? 

If not careful, you can get lost in a loop of cinematic sameness. 

While it might lead to a late night documentary binge on your favorite mobile device, you will be okay.  

It’s only when we resist real world human interactions with certain types of people because we’ve formed hard opinions via the digital avatars of these people do we get into trouble. 

So how we do we intentionally press past the “digital wall of separation?” 

5 Practical Actions to Expand Cultural Bandwidth 

  • Face Your Biases: What attracts? What repels? Who’s a friend or foe?

  • Connect with the Common: Where is the common ground with those you might disagree with?

  • Get Scared: What opportunities will be missed if you don't get out of your cultural comfort zone?

  • Get Outside Your Cultural Comfort Zone: Study. Learn. Listen. Experience.

  • Ask Better Questions: Dig deeper than the surface. People are much more than what meets the eye.

Let us bravely break walls and boldly build bridges. 

"We all know the truth. more connects us than separates us. But in times of crisis, the wise build bridges, while the foolish build barriers. We must find a way to look after one another, as if we were one single tribe.” - T’Challa / Black Panther Movie

Julian Newman