In 2018, we are more connected than ever before. Our cellphones are always within reach, WiFi dominates major urban centres and social media permeates many aspects of our lives. But do we really feel connected?

Through digital mediums, we’re able to talk with almost anyone in the world instantaneously. A technological cyberspace has embedded itself in nearly every facet of society, and with it comes new struggles in identifying and creating meaningful relationships.

A 2017 report by the Calgary Foundation, a community charity organization, 47 percent of Calgarians reported being affected by loneliness, with 19 percent of those under 35 saying they are lonely often or always.

To further understand loneliness, technological disconnect and social detachment, the Calgary Journal spoke with three people connecting in different ways to learn how technology is changing the way people interact in 2018.

Connecting at The Node

NodeBodyAs one of Calgary’s last remaining gaming and internet cafes, The Node represents a rare intersection where online and personal connection exist under one roof. Photo by Nathan Kunz.

As one of Calgary’s last remaining internet and gaming cafes, The Node occupies a rare crossroad where online and in-person interactions meet.

Manager Brianna Mestinsek, who first visited The Node six years ago before becoming an employee a year later, says online gaming offers the chance to find relationships unlike those available elsewhere.

“You see the worst in each other, you see the best in each other,” says Mestinsek. “You get a stronger relationship playing games with people online.”

Finding a Middle Ground

LaPointKidsPaul Lapointe (right), seen here with his two childen Asher and Ember, playing on the climbing wall built into their basement. Photo by Colin Macgillivray.

Through his work as both a Dale Carnegie course instructor and a mental health therapist at Calgary’s South Health Campus hospital, Paul Lapointe deals with communication and relationships on a daily basis.

Technology use is a topic that generates an engaging discourse for Lapointe, in which he believes that finding an area of compromise between digital interaction and face-to-face connection is key.

“When I started out my career many years ago, it was ‘you left work, you got home and your work was done’,” says Lapointe. “Now, it’s progressed over the years that people [always] have their phones, so that stress of work continues on and kind of bleeds into people’s lives as well, and their personal life. So, the challenge really is trying to create that separation.”

Unplugging at Rampart Hostel

Nestled beneath the Rocky Mountains and between a seemingly endless sea of trees, Rampart Creek Wilderness Hostel offers an off-the-grid approach to personal connection.

Ken Wood, live-in manager at the hostel, suggests that going “off-the-grid” is one of the most effective ways of fostering a genuine human relationship.

“There’s a deep realization, I think, in people that it’s beneficial to your quality of life to come out and spend time in the wilderness, in a situation which is a little wilder, where you have this feeling of awe,” Wood explains. “And we don’t get that in cities. And you don’t get it with technology.”

Watch the video to learn the full story of how Mestinsek, Lapointe and Wood find connection in a digital world.

Editor: Casey Richardson | 

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