I’m thrilled to share this thought-provoking post with you by our newest contributor, Halah Flynn. Halah is a senior at the University of North Carolina studying public relations & global studies. She is incredibly bright, with a gift for storytelling and a passion for women and global issues. I hope you enjoy her post as much as I did!
Every great era of global history is immortalized by a frontier to explore: The Americas, The Wild West, the moon, the Internet. They’re all increasingly massive and abstract as the list goes on.
As we round the corner into 2016, we must consider what our next great frontier will be? Virtual reality? The ocean floor? The outer solar system?
Forbes, TIME and BusinessWeek might tell you that the next new frontier is green engineering or brain mapping, but I’m going to let you in on a little secret: the next great frontier is much closer than you think, but it extends much further than you could imagine. It’s in your hands.
It is your physical ability to reach out and touch the person next to you, to make connections and create relationships with others in your life, not because this has never been done before, but because it is becoming a lost art.
Social media has brought us closer together than ever before, yet pushes us further away from our true selves. We miss the opportunity to make a friend in the elevator, or lend a hand with someone’s grocery cart because we’re too focused on the screens in front of our faces. Family dinners fade into quiet evenings with backlit keyboards instead of lively conversations. High school reunions are plagued by awkward silence when one wallflower pulls out his phone, only to have the rest of the party follow.
We might look connected on paper, but in reality, we could not be more alone. Status updates replace conversations; selfie sticks force us to turn our backs on the action, just so everyone can be tagged in the resulting Instagram post.
How do we change that? How do we make sure that our connections with others are real?
I’m not asking you to put down your phone, I’m telling you to recognize when to put it down.
You don’t have to abandon the virtual connections you keep with friends and family, but know the value of a visit in person. Make a mental effort to stop swiping left and right on people’s faces and spend more time looking at them in real life, before the art of real conversation becomes a myth.
The next great frontier is just beyond the screen of your phone: It’s hard to see, if you’re not looking for it, but it’s there. As 2016 rolls in faster than any of us are ready, it is not enough to hold on for dear life. We must reach.
Reach, to take hold of the people in your lives at this moment in time. Reach, toward the people with whom you wish you could spend more time. Reach, for growth in your relationships so that you can grow together.
It’s not as hard as it seems. Start by immersing yourself in your own life, with your tribe of women, with your community at home or abroad, so that you may grow together to invest in the lives of women you have yet to touch. Melinda Gates once said, “When you invest in women, you invest in the people who invest in everybody else.” When you take the time to cultivate positive relationships, you develop a community of support that transcends geographical borders.
The next great frontier is here and now: all you need is to take the first step.