Cal Newport

My Top Apps for Real, Meaningful Connection

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Okay, I promise this is not a social media blast post where I tell you all about the evils of Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook. About how they are actually doing the opposite of what they set out to do. I certainly love me some IG stories and sending random GIFS and hearts to all my online pals. I see the good that has come from social media, and I still want to champion it as a means of bringing people together.


Besides, you probably already know all the negative side effects of too much social media. The comparison. The self doubt. The proverbial highlight reel. The constant scrolling. The she-went-on-another-vacation-and-I’m-here-scrubbing-toilets moment. Okay, maybe that last one is just me?


In his latest book, Digital Minimalism, Cal Newport unpacks how as social creatures, we have hit a tipping point with our consumption of media apps. He states, “the key issue is that using social media tends to take people away from the real-world socializing that’s massively more valuable…the more you use social media, the less time you tend to devote to offline interaction, and therefore the worse this value deficit becomes-leaving the heaviest social media users much more likely to be lonely and miserable.” Essentially, the more we click, the emptier we can feel.


I’m raising my hand here, because I have witnessed this first hand in my own life. This past year, I have been pretty vulnerable in sharing how lonely I have felt. Not because my relationships have suffered, but because when your work is predominately in front of a screen at home, it can feel isolating.

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Extrovert, introvert, we all need more time face-to-face. But what happens when schedules are busy and we can’t always make that happen? Or our closest friends live half a world away? How can we move past the quick Instagram like/comment habit into a more authentic way of connecting with those we love?


Let’s talk about what apps on your phone actually foster REAL and meaningful friendship. Because if you’re anything like me, you’re hungry for authentic conversation. I want face-to-face or voice-to-voice camaraderie, support and growth. People being people-y together. I’m so here for it.

  1. Voxer:

    If you’re a business owner, this one is probably nothing new. Voxer is essentially an app that allows you to walkie-talkie with friends. You can check it when it’s convenient for you. There’s something really lovely in hearing the voice of a friend after a particularly hard day of mothering. The intonation of her voice when she tells you something important. The laughter that makes it feel she’s right there beside you. This has been a gift to me in more ways than I can express. If you’re missing girlfriends or relatives, have them download this app with you! Set a weekly Vox date and make it happen.

  2. Marco Polo:

    This is another helpful app when you’re craving some face-to-face time. It’s a video chat service that allows for group chats and shares, so you can essentially get all your college besties in the same “room”. One of my closest friends lives in Hawaii, so she often sends me Polos of her kids and their daily life. We’ve had some real heart to heart chats and prayed through events in our lives together via that app. There is no replacement for seeing someone’s face. Download this app for better connection with people you value and want more face time with!

  3. Actual Phone

    I know, this is revolutionary, but stay with me. I am trying to be better about keeping actual phone conversations with certain friends. Not everyone I love wants to keep these apps, and taking the time to connect over a phone call means I care about growing that friendship. In high school, I’d talk for HOURS and now I can barely be bothered to pick up. I don’t want to be that way. When was the last time you had a good, lengthy phone conversation?

The key is not to prioritize your schedule but to schedule your priorities.
— Steven Covey

I challenge you to set aside time for these other ways of connecting. If you can’t meet over coffee this week (or month!) then get creative with how you cultivate friendships. I don’t think there’s ever been a more difficult time to keep adult friendships. Even with ALL the media and apps and methods at our disposable, we still struggle to prioritize our relationships. If you’re craving real connection and not only surface small talk, it will take some intention. But it’s so worth the extra effort. Promise.

xo

Erin