You Can’t Download Experience…

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Paula JohnsonAs our lives get busier and busier, we seem to take our friendships for granted…connecting quickly on Facebook, sending txt messages instead of making a phone call and having a proper conversation. Our social circles are widening virtually, but are our solid, true connections diminishing…

By Jess Ball

I feel like we are missing something… and I’d like to know how you’re feeling…

We live in a world where approximately 1.7 billion people own a computer and have free-flow access to the Internet. The development of technology (and marketing of rapidly-advancing products like virtual glasses and fingerprint-enabled tools) has given us a false perception that we are more connected now through social media, online news sites, platforms and forums to express our opinions, look for potential suitors, and identify other like-minded individuals.

We are human beings, not machines, and there seems to be a major glitch in the system. Where has our value in firsthand experience and natural connection gone?

Holding hands

How have we moved so far away from our hearts, which is instinctively the place that brings us happiness and joy (which is what we are searching for), and instead accepted setting up a virtual shop in our minds?

I understand the Web has its place. It does offer instant access to information, inspiration, and important resources, and allows us to witness examples of empathy, compassion and sensitivity. It has also developed different ways of communicating which, studies have shown, can have positive effects.

I use it for precisely that purpose, and am fully aware that if a positive message can reach as many people as possible, the online dimension is where it will have most affect (there is also the other side to that coin, which includes cyber-bullying, negative psychological impacts of online social networking, unrealistic expectations of who we should be, and facilitating criminal behaviour, but that’s definitely another blog topic).

Where it doesn’t fill a gap in this human life, is in the action of living, processing situations and interactions. I believe our quest for significance and self-esteem (both individually and collectively) must be sensed, not interpreted or given false meaning through online insights and influence ratings (which give a representation of our worth based on advertising scales).

Feelings are hard to define in words (or emoticons…!), but they are what we remember, and hold on to, to find some consensus of identity, definition, assessment and association with others. That is the nature of human behaviour.

The way we see the world is 100% our own perception – it is a subjective view and each of us has created our own maps based on emotions associated with past experience. And instead of looking at ways of processing and learning through those experiences, we seem to be taught that to succeed or be recognised (or even just be ok), we need to have numerous followers and likes.


That existential dilemma doesn’t make any sense to me at all. You definitely can’t see someone’s truly magnificent reflection, let alone your own, in that matrix. Instead of hiding behind screens and clicks, we could communicate in sincere ways with ourselves and our fellow travellers. I think that would be a more fulfilling and longer lasting verification than a viral video.

It is crucial that we educate future generations on how to express themselves in full form and interact with each other in this reality, and not from behind their profile photo or handheld device.

Someone told me that 55% of communication is connected to physiology (body language, energy). No wonder people often mis-interpret online messages or tone in an email. This should be significantly pointed out again and again – assumptions can hurt, clarification can clear.

And aside from that, online invites to weddings or briefly checking in to see if someone is doing ok, doesn’t FEEL so good at times either. Where’s the sense of true community? Of having each other’s backs? Of love and caring through action, not passivity (disguised as action in our own minds)?

How does it FEEL to have a face to face conversation with someone about something that’s important to you, instead of emailing, sending an instant message, or describing your excitement in 140 characters or less?

Yogi & Heather

What is it like to HEAR live music which moves and allows you to gracefully traverse through a beautiful, mystical world of emotion and discovery?

Listen to music

What is it like to SEE a beautiful baby smile for the first time, instead of watching an online video?

Smiling baby

What does it TASTE like to put the first piece of your favourite food in your mouth? And to FEEL the love it was made with in each bite after that?

Eating NZ Bluff Oysters

What happens when you actually stop to SMELL the roses and appreciate Mother Nature in her splendour?

Christchurch Botanic Garden

And how does it FEEL to see love in someone’s eyes, instead of assume it via a toneless text message?


Please do me a favour, if you are willing to not forget what matters…next time you see your loved ones, give them a big, fully embracing, whole-hearted hug…THAT experience is something that simply can’t be downloaded.


Here’s an awesome You Tube video that speaks about this exactly:

Jess Ball Jess Ball is a trained creative life balance coach, a qualified communications/personal manager, writer and a student of life. She has combined her skills to form her own business, Creative Soul Management (based in Melbourne, Australia), which provides guidance and management for inspired individuals, both professionally and personally.
Jess works one-on-one to coach and mentor her clients through their journeys, and also fills a communications role if required. She has a passion to help performers see their own reflection and explore the blocks that hinder peak performance, and works primarily with those who use their platform to create positive change. She assists them to spread their wings and shine on their own, by honouring their individuality so it can echo through their art as well as in their life.
Jess has been in the Australian entertainment industry for over 10 years as a talent manager, communications manager, music publicist and radio specialist. She has worked with many well-known personalities in radio, television, music and sport.
To get in touch with Jess, email her:
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  1. LOVE this article Paula!! :o) My sentiments – exactly xo

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