By Maddie Rodriguez

Meaningful Connections.

We live in an age in which hundreds of friends and followers are at our fingertips. With the click of a button or the tapping of a few keys, we can share everything from photos to feelings to the causes closest to our heart. It is easier than ever to connect.

At the same time, it feels like we are regularly scolded for the ease of this connection. How many of us have read an article or told by some well-meaning person to “look up from our phone” and connect to the world around us. But what makes a connection meaningful?

A meaningful connection doesn’t always have to exist between two people in the same geographical space. Just as our phones have the potential to distract us from making connections, it can also facilitate them. They are just one of many tools we can use to build and support relationships.

True meaningfulness depends on the quality of the relationship, not the proximity of the person we share it with or the length of time we experience it. For a long-term relationship, shared history, interest and outlook all create meaning. In these instances, we create meaning with mutual lived experience or a joint passion project or an inside joke. But with an investment of attention or care, a meaningful connection can also be made with a passing stranger, either digitally or in person. Taking the time to check in, offer a smile or a sympathetic word can create a moment of meaning in our day-to-day lives.

Ultimately, regardless of what tools we use to connect, it’s approaching our connections thoughtfully and with intention that gives them meaning.