Disruption, fragmentation, social media, words we are hearing more often as the world speeds up, gets smaller and everyone is running faster than ever to keep up. We are so connected through smartphones these days there really isn’t anywhere to hide from the stress of modern living. For many of us, in spite of the multiple ways we can all instantly connect, chat, post, poke, tag, TXT, we are in fact growing more isolated. More of us are lonelier than ever. What is happening? How can this be?

You see, I think I’ve worked it out. Keeping up is keeping us apart. With so little time to smell the roses, and to borrow from  Henry David Thoreau, most of us live lives of quiet obligation. But here’s the thing. For all the smart apps, dating sites, and social media applications, that part of our brain that’s primal, the amygdala, drives a yearning and craving for physical social contact. 

We must exercise all our senses to be complete. So, in spite of what my 16 year old tech savvy daughter tells me, smartphones don’t laugh when you say something funny and you don’t learn much about the subtleties of body language talking to them either. Smartphones, like eating at home or in food courts, lacks atmosphere and that is the vital ingredient in social interaction and being complete. We humans need to be with each other.

Shopping centres used to be places to socialise but today they have become places with little variety and a lot less soul or atmosphere. Where once they were entertainment venues, an outing for the family, sadly, no more. With fewer and smaller spaces to congregate, malls have become places to buy stuff and not much more. 

So when you step back and take a cold hard look at it, our local sporting, workers, RSL and surf clubs and our corner pubs, the local remain the last bastion in our socially rich culture where we can congregate, be entertained, enjoy time with friends and family, laugh over a cold drink and a scrumptious meal. Its where we genuinely meet people in a welcoming environment where the only purpose for going is to meet people and just have a great time.

So as a member of the younger generations (yep, I continue to live in denial), I will be taking my young family including my temperamental 16 year old to a local surf club for a meal and importantly, to introduce them to a side of our glorious Australian community they must hold on to, be a part of and promote to their peers. Maybe using social media ;-) what an irony that would be.