We have never had more ways to communicate. And yet, do you get the feeling that it’s harder than ever to actually connect?
We have constant access to screens and are often expected to monitor an endless stream of information. If you’re not checking email, text messages, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, you feel like you’re missing out. Even if you want to pay less attention to it all, online communications have become the de facto means of spreading important updates for schools, churches, businesses, professional groups, and other organizations central to our lives.
Completely tuning out isn’t an option. The conversation is no longer about phone and tech addiction — we’re now all but forced into a constant digital presence for survival.
But perhaps we need to slow down and re-examine what’s missing from being this hyper-connected. For all the benefits that come from email blasts and group chats, are we unwittingly becoming less and less attentive to the people around us? It’s a growing concern, with people reporting increased feelings of loneliness and isolation, despite the technology that tethers us together.
With the rapid development of technology, there’s been a race to communicate faster and more effectively, and Covid cranked this trend into overdrive. Things have moved so quickly that we rarely look back to understand what was beneficial about the old ways of doing things. Our feet are pointing forward, but we forget to look behind.
It’s time to slow down, stop and think. And here’s where we can seek guidance and wisdom from the symbolic bird called the Sankofa.
Moving Forward While Looking Backward
The Sankofa bird is a symbol used by the Akan tribe in Ghana. The image shows a bird with its feet pointed forward and its head looking backward. The name “Sankofa” can be translated as “to go back and get,” and the bird is usually associated with the Akan proverb, “it is not wrong to go back for that which you have forgotten.”
Put perhaps a bit more simply, it’s an expression of remembering and learning from the past even as you move forward. While change is inevitable — and welcome — wisdom can be gained from those who came before you.
I love this concept. We shouldn’t be restrained by the past, yet we mustn’t forget those hard-fought lessons. By honoring and studying old ways, we learn strategies for endurance, connection, and growth in the new ways we do things. Have we been traveling at such rapid speed through digital growth that we’re failing to stop and recoup timeless lessons of the past?
Make the Time to Connect
For all the promises of increased efficiency, far too many of us feel like we don’t have any time. So instead of thoughtful interactions, we resort to a quick text, an emoji, a “like,” or a thumbs up. We’ve forgotten that human interactions were more intimate and genuine not too long ago.
The goal should be to take the best of the good ol’ days and intermingle it with the world of today, in which distractions can be overwhelming. For me, that has meant a focus on writing handwritten notes.
I’ve been amazed at how the simple act of putting pen to paper and sending thoughts out into the world can fill your life with greater joy and abundance.
I know, you probably think that sounds ridiculous. It sounds a little crazy to me as I read it over. But it’s true, and I’ve reaped the benefits enough that it has become a ritual in my life. So much so that I’ve even written a book about it to help other people discover the benefits of an old-fashioned way of connecting in the modern world.
My handwriting is only so-so. My grammar and spelling are not always on point. I often don’t have the right paper or pen at hand. But I don’t care. The point is to make a deeper connection with another person. I write notes because I’ve seen how much joy they can bring both the sender and the receiver.
It’s a gift from the past that has made my life in the present more fulfilling. You’ll find plenty of other lessons, customs, habits, and ways of doing things that can benefit us today.
So take a few minutes — you can spare them! — to think about how your parents and grandparents lived. Move forward but look backward. Your phone isn’t going anywhere, but how and when you use it is a choice.
Purchase her new book:
Handwritten Notes: Learn How a Small, Powerful Act Can Enrich Your Life!