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Connected But Alone

Social isolation may be the leading problem of our era.

  • 89% of people used a cell phone during their last social interaction. 82% felt it degraded the conversation.
  • 40% of Americans identify as lonely; up from 1 in 10 in the 1970s.
  • One in four Americans have no trusted confidante; up from 1 in 10 in 1985.
  • Less than half of American kids live in a traditional family home.
  • There’s been a 40% decline in standard measures of empathy since the 1990s.
  • There’s been a 24% rise in suicides between 1999 and 2014.
  • Only about half of Americans trust their neighbors.

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MORE IDEAS FROM THE ARTICLE

In previous eras, people used to gather around a faith group, neighborhood association, or trade union.

However, the crisis of social isolation has created a vacuum that commercial, for-profit brands are stepping in to fill.

Technology is part of the problem of disconnection, as we're replacing deep, emotion-driving in-person relationships with superficial online relationships.

Another cause is the decline of participation in organized religions that were traditionally responsible for weaving social fabric. Reweaving the social fabric is vital to the individual as well as collectively.

Some for-profit brands are identifying the opportunity for stepping into the cultural need and market opportunity for more in-depth, real-world person-to-person connections.

Those companies that help us forge meaningful connections will win deep loyalty. If belonging can be built around apparel and technology companies, surely it can be built around learning, parenthood, food, and health.

Most brand-led community building focuses on people loosely aggregated around a brand, where the brand is the hero, and the people mostly interact with the brand.

What is needed are initiatives that enhance belonging with real connection. Brands should create spaces, experiences, products, and services that deliberately foster the conditions for diverse people coming together in respectful environments for shared experiences.

  • Make contact with people you disagree with.
  • Share collective joy and pain.
  • Speak up politely when you disagree.
  • Embrace the paradox. Those with a strong sense of belonging often demonstrate a mix of traits, such as the courage to stand alone, while also being engaged in a group.

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We have this moment only to work on what's important

Death illuminates the fact that this very moment is all we really have in this life.

We have only this moment to work on what gives us meaning and to tell the people we love most that we love them.

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This is where like-minded people are participating in an activity. Online multiplayer games like Fortnite have 200 million users, and teens spend many hours on it keeping up with virtual friends and attending virtual concerts and events within the platform. 

Brands can tap into these shared experience campfires by associating with and creating virtual activities that are related to the audience grouped together and participating actively due to their shared interest.

Byproducts of Crises

During war times, the common man is least prepared for dealing with the drastic change of circumstances, displacement, loss of life of the self and loved ones, along with injury, loss of property and mental trauma.

Social and financial distress, loss of morale, and death of innocents are the byproducts of war, the effects of which are felt on the common man for decades.