I’ve been thinking a lot lately about communication in this high-tech world. It all started when I walked out the door one morning and forgot my cell phone. I didn’t realize it until I reached work. Once I did, a feeling of panic washed over me. What would I do without my phone? What if there was a family emergency? What if my car broke down on the way home from work? What if I missed one of the many Facebook notifications that scroll across the screen multiple times a day? Okay, that last one is a stretch, but it really got me thinking about how my communication skills have changed since I’ve owned a smart phone. I’ll be honest. I LOVE my iPhone. Most times, it makes life easier. But it certainly doesn’t make it simpler. Because of my slight obsession with social networking sites like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter most people in my life know where I am, what I am doing, and what I am eating at all hours of the day. I rarely speak to anyone on my cell phone because I can do all my communicating without ever REALLY communicating verbally. Even at work, I’m emailing people who are literally a few feet away from me rather than going directly to their desk to speak with them. And I almost never think about the role that privilege  plays in making this “communication-less” lifestyle possible. Because as a person who comes from a place of privilege, I don’t have to.
Forgetting my phone that day actually turned out to be a blessing in disguise. Without the constant distractions of texts and social network notifications, I had time to think about the need that we as humans have for connection to others. Over the past few years, as we’ve worked with prevention programs around the nation to assess their needs , we’ve heard time and time again about the need for preventionists to connect with one another. Many local level preventionists feel isolated in their organizations. This is also true for some state/territory-level preventionists. We know that many programs are limited to one prevention staff – most have someone who is only able to do prevention work half of the time. So, the need to connect to others doing similar work is paramount. They want to be able to share ideas about programming and evaluation efforts, what’s working for them or what’s not, share resources, and learn from others who have faced similar challenges or had successes in their efforts to implement prevention strategies in their communities.
I was reminded of this yesterday when I received a request from a state-level preventionist who wanted to know how other states were working to build the capacity of local preventionists. It would have been easy for me to start an email group discussion among a few prevention staff; this is my go-to way of responding. But I realized that this would be the perfect opportunity to set up a phone call so preventionists could do some peer-learning and sharing and connect with one another. I am committed to helping make these connections happen more often; even over the phone, these connections are valuable. This is an opportunity that we at the NSVRC want to offer more and more in the coming years.
What would you want to connect with other preventionists about if given the opportunity? Let us know by commenting below.