Connection is why we’re here

I want to thank Heli for posting this video link to a talk by Dr Brene Brown. Brene Brown is certainly a gifted speaker and as Heli discusses with John Mak on his blog – vulnerability is inside everyone. I think this would be hard to deny – especially in relation to online connectivity.

I have watched the video a couple of times and have thought about it a lot. I have also heard an alternative perspective from a valued friend and have come to the conclusion that the problem with these talks is that they play on our emotions to the extent that it’s difficult to see the wood for the trees.

Brene Brown starts her talk by saying:

Connection is why we’re here. It’s what gives purpose and meaning to our lives.

She then goes on to say:

… the ability to feel connected ….. is neurobiolically how we are wired – it’s why we are here.

And then she goes on to talk about the vulnerability of those who feel disconnected and the reasons for this. She is a very entertaining speaker, so it is easy to be swept along on the emotive wave of her talk.

But the thing is that her talk was based on the massive assumption that everyone wants connection. I can see that those who want it and feel disconnected might have the problems of vulnerability that she describes – but what if you don’t want it?

Or alternatively – what if your personal interpretation of connection is connection to concepts rather than to people. Brene Brown talks about us being neurologically wired for connection – but that does not mean that these connections have to be social.

To me it seems that the emphasis in connectivism is often on social learning and social connections. My friend and colleague Matthias, has discussed this on this blog (see for example this blog post – http://x28newblog.blog.uni-heidelberg.de/2008/11/23/cck08-conceptual-and-social-layer/ . Personally I very much enjoy discussions with close friends/colleagues about mutual interests, so I am not anti-social – but I am aware that the extent of my social connection is very small compared to others on the web. I have no need for a wide circle of friends or connections and I respect those who prefer to be connected to concepts rather than people.

So it seems to me, that if we are talking about connectivity, we need to first surface some assumptions about what it means.

3 thoughts on “Connection is why we’re here

  1. Heli Nurmi January 4, 2011 / 1:19 pm

    Hi Jenny,
    I want to explain how I see the Ted Talk of Brene Brown. I agree with you in :
    “the problem with these talks is that they play on our emotions to the extent that it’s difficult to see the wood for the trees”.
    I often like more about lectures than these short talks which try to please audience. But I thought that in this certain case it did not disturb me. I liked her style. The audience was right and wanted to follow..I suppose.

    Developmental psychology is the science I know best, so I did not mind how she gave the basic arguments. I have mine already.

    I understood that she spoke about the authentic connection which is necessary to develop toward human life – something about it remains inside everyone and can be called vulnerability. Openness needs it, i suppose. This is the level in which we can meet each other as human beings. She told her own story and I liked it because it touched mine.

    I cannot follow what you said about the choice of being not-social. I could say about myself that I am introvert and need only some social relations, I appreciate deep ones. Autistic people see the world differently but it is not a choice, they are different. You did not mean this.

    So, should we define social, too?
    I hope you can follow my English. I trust you!

  2. jennymackness January 6, 2011 / 5:50 pm

    Hi Heli – many thanks for taking the time to follow up on this.

    You have written – I cannot follow what you said about the choice of being not-social. I probably have not explained myself very well because I am still trying to sort all this out in my own mind.

    I am just wondering whether ‘connectivity’ has been, is being – over-emphasised. On the one side we have people urging us to recognise the importance of connectivity for learning and on the other we have a number of blog posts and twitter posts around at the moment in which people are clearly struggling with information overload – which I interpret to be a result of too much connectivity – see for example Will Richardson’s blog post today – http://weblogg-ed.com/2011/the-choices-we-make/

    So I suppose I am just thinking about it all and when I hear someone like Brene Brown speak about connectivity – I listen with questions in my mind. I don’t have any answers yet though 🙂

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