Meaningful Connection in a Hyperconnected World

At John Sisk & Son
With UnPlug 6
th July 2022

Dear All,

Thank you again for attending UnPlug's keynote on Meaningful Connection in an Hyperconnected World at John Sisk & Son on 6th July 2022. Below are follow up links on the background research and tools. Thanks again to Richie for his assistance in setting up the keynote. If you have further
questions or are interested in a specific area my contact details are below.

Kind Regards,

Chris Flack

Chris Flack
Co-founder, UnPlug
T: +353 1 485 2923


Loneliness was an epidemic before COVID, however, social distancing has made this a bigger challenge for many people. A key challenge is that during lockdown our social wiring changed to see strangers as danger. We need to overcompensate to rebuild this social muscle. A key part of this is micro interactions, for example saying “Hi” to a barista or stranger on the street. Research shows that even a 30 second interaction leads to higher levels of happiness and connection.(1) Building on this, research also shows that it’s important that we build “weak ties” in our social network. Our ideas are challenged when we meet people outside of our typical social pool whether at the watercooler or in the
canteen. (2) You can read more about the importance of weak ties re. diversity, inclusion and belonging in a recent article I wrote by clicking on the following link;

And although digital technology is an incredible enabler, it is important that, as Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella was quoted as saying “Digital technology should not be a substitute for
human connection.” Research backs this up;
• In real life (IRL) social connection sparks more activity in brain regions linked to social
cognition and reward3
• Emotions are contagious; however, this is not possible via screens (think of how you
felt when you first saw friends IRL after lockdown).4


o iPhone effect - Multiple studies showing the mere presence of a digital device in our line of sight reduces our focus and empathy(5)

. Once you have an understanding of where this is impacting you, look to physically change your setup. For example, if you recognise that you have devices in your bedroom look to change the environment yourself with an alarm clock you really like as it’s a big change. We recommend voice assists (non-screen), sun rise alarm clocks (any brand) or a digital watch with a vibrating alarm (ideally with no apps / notifications from your phone).

o Kindness is an antidote to loneliness. It’s important we always start with ourselves and understanding that loneliness is a normal body function. Just as we feel hungry when we need food, we feel a social pain when we need the right social connections. And loneliness is not being alone, it’s a subjective perception of social isolation.

▪ Be kind to yourself – If you feel lonely find someone to talk to about it.Remember you are not alone, many people feel lonely, if no-one is
available to chat then goto (a free, anonymous, 24/7 messaging service providing everything from a calming chat to immediate support). If seeking professional help, research suggests that Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is a good place to start (6)
▪ Acts of kindness at work. Cisco have a great example of a system to encourage this in the workplace;

If you’d like to learn more about the area we recommend the following (there are many others – these are our top picks);


UnPlug are committed to continually improving our programmes and your suggestions will be taken into account for future training needs. Your feedback is valuable and is much appreciated. To complete our quick feedback survey either click on the following QR code or link;

Books on social connection

i. Alone Together – Sherry Turkle
ii. The Lonely Century – Noreena Hertz
iii. The Village Effect: How Face-to-Face Contact Can Make Us Healthier and Happier – Susan PinkerUnPlug also run the following;


• Masterclasses (small groups - design thinking, solution oriented) on;
o Digital Wellbeing - Individual digital habits with an introduction to frameworks that will sustain them through digital culture.
o Digital Culture – Working with organisational culture / work design to develop communication charters and digital working frameworks to encourage norms and values that will support new Digital Wellbeing habits.

Individual Digital Wellbeing coaching.
Please email for more details.