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A Paradigm Shift: Interdependence

Written By: Krista Keil

Concepts taken from Steve Covey’s, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

While on a plane ride the other day I met a 15 year old high schooler, who I’ll call Katie.* Katie, myself, and a friend ended up having a great conversation that lasted for most of our flight. The conversation led us down a myriad of paths; what caught my attention was Katie's honesty about her experience as a young person in a technology driven age. At her own discretion, Katie ended up showing my friend and I how much screen time she averages on a daily basis on her phone alone: it was between 8-9 hours per day. Katie continued to share that she isn’t enjoying high school very much- her peers struggle to engage socially with one another in school, because the bulk of communication occurs digitally, even when at school.

Katie shared how social media platforms like Tik Tok and Instagram are entertaining but lonely. People don’t seem to have “real” friends or connections any more, because everyone is behind a screen, Katie continued. Katie also shared that although she knows lessening her screen time would be beneficial, it’s difficult to change. At the end of the day, she admits, she doesn’t really want to stop. Her candid approach was striking.

This led me to ponder how the age of technology has given us access to many different types of information. Technology, and social media platforms in particular, have become the ‘go to’ solution to solve outside problems such as boredom, loneliness, desire for entertainment, and information seeking. It’s no secret that social media platforms are designed to be addictive, and facilitate dependency in order to increase usage. This struck me, because I found it correlated to Stephen Covey’s, Maturity Continuum. Covey proposes that the path to maturity lies in moving from dependence to independence and ultimately from independence to interdependence.

As Covey describes, too much dependence leads to a lack of personal autonomy, relying on others to define us, and inhibits us from unlocking our own potential. This dependency can be a recipe for depression and anxiety. On the other end of the spectrum lies independence. While independence of character and self-sufficiency are vital in our growth and development, it too, can become a vice. Too much independence can lead to over-assertion of power or authority, or lack of care for others. Thankfully, we are not limited to these two approaches. “Human life is interdependent!” writes Dr. Covey. “Interdependent people combine their own efforts with the efforts of others to achieve their greatest success.” Interdependence sits as the high point on the maturity continuum, building upon and refining independence of character: it is the route that leads to the highest level of success and requires a commitment to communication, teamwork, and cooperation.

Ultimately, interdependence perfects human potential: it fills our basic desire for human connection and has the capacity to ennoble and inspire through shared effort. Majority of human discoveries throughout history are a result of collaboration, a collective effort. Maintaining an interdependent approach to life, despite technological advances, allows us the opportunity to share ourselves deeply and meaningfully with others, giving us access to the most valuable resource we have: each other.

Are you up for participating in this paradigm shift? How can we deepen our interactions with the people around us (on or off social media) such that they are meaningful and more interdependent? What is one small step you can take in your daily life to move from dependence to true interdependence?

*Identifying information has been changed for privacy.


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