I set my alarm for 6:30 this morning, just like I do most weekday mornings, so I can get a good start on the day.  After doing the ‘social scroll’—checking through all of my social and media platforms—I got up to have a shower and make breakfast.

Between breakfast and lunch though, I realized I had checked my phone an astonishing 30 times.

Taken aback by my habits, I started to ask around to see if I was alone. Back in late 2015, dailymail.co.uk reported, ‘The average person checks their device 85 times a day, spending a total of five hours browsing the web and using apps. This equates to around a third of the time a person is awake, and is twice as often as many people even realize’.

Here we are, early 2017. We pride ourselves with being in a world that is increasingly connected, and we claim that we know more than we ever did before.

Perhaps we do know more about the people around us, but do we really understand them? We check our texts for 1-5 word responses, social media updates from people we ‘kinda sorta’ know through a friend, and we see pictures and 10 second video stories that show the best moments of their day captured and shared. Does this mean we are connected? Yes, but only at a surface level. Connecting on a deeper, more meaningful level is good too. Balance, right?

It used to be that we would call and catch up. Now we suggest it, but we might text five people before calling one.

With the global population sitting at just under 7.5 billion people, and the Internet giving us the ability to connect in ways we could have only dreamed of just a few years ago, it is no surprise that we can ‘connect’ easier than ever before. Add what we intuitively know to the fact that GSMA Intelligence is reporting that there are over 8-billion mobile connections (cell phones, etc.), there are actually more mobile connections than people.

So there are more mobile devices than there are people, and we check them, on average, 85 times a day and are spending numerous hours doing so, what are we missing that we had just a few short years ago?

In a world that is connecting more and more, are we connecting less and less?

How often are you walking downtown or sitting on the subway and look across to see that people aren’t talking to one another? They are face down in their phone.

And hey, I’m not saying I’m any different. In fact, I’m a tech-dependent Millennial who is likely worse than most.

Knowing that this is true for more than us than we’d like to admit though, I believe it is time for a change. I believe that in an increasingly connected world, we truly can connect more and more without being dependent on technology.

I’m a believer that we can utilize technology and still get the most from the relationships around us.

For so long I believed that more—friends—was better. That the more people I could ‘connect’ with, the better off I’d be.

2017 will be another year of incredible tech advancements just like each year before this one. There inevitably will be another Snapchat, Instagram, and Facebook, and we will have more places to share who we are with the people we want to network with.

Let’s just remember though, connections don’t mean true connection.

A balance of both is always needed.

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 Opinions expressed here by Contributors are their own.

Eric Termuende is founder of the DRYVER Group., a consultancy focused on the the attraction and retention of top talent. In 2015, Eric was recognized as a Top 100 Emerging Innovators under 35 globally by American Express. He sat as Community Integration Chair for Global Shapers Calgary, a community that functions under the World Economic Forum. Eric is a former Canadian G20 YEA Delegate, representing Canada in Sydney in 2014. In 2016, Eric spoke at TEDxBCIT in Vancouver giving his presentation entitled ‘Bigger than Work’. Eric has worked and spoken with clients across the world for the National Speakers Bureau, and was VP Operations and Finance for the University of Calgary Students Union and Class Ambassador for his graduating class. Finally, Eric currently sits on the Vancouver Board of Trade Company of Young Professionals Board.

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