Why we will never lose Human Connection.

In late 2019, we asked the question ‘Have we lost the Art of Human Connection’ as part of a content campaign for Visit Victoria and the award-winning musical Come From Away.

(Leveraging the Come From Away story, our social experiment tested the question – what would happen if you took a chance on an interaction with a stranger and where could it take you; and demonstrated the inherently connected and collaborative nature of Melbourne as a city.)

This question about Human Connection is one I’ve pondered quite a lot these last 5 Covid-infused months, and not just because I can’t see how we would have created that project under the current circumstances!

When we first asked this question, we saw digital devices and processes as the biggest barriers to humans connecting – whereas our current lack of human connection is being driven by something that we can’t control – a global pandemic.

What we're experiencing right now, is a huge reduction in our daily interactions with other humans – from contactless payment, no morning chat to your barista or conversations at the bar after work, to the lack of physical meetings, in-person brainstorms, social chit chat or friend and family get-togethers. And it’s counter intuitive to most of our innate human behaviour.

Retail, hospitality, events – all look so different now – and I guess are likely to for quite some time. We’ve all seen this week the UK’s very different-looking socially distanced music festival and back home we are donning masks and sanitizing our hands before even leaving our homes – but have we lost that art of human connection?

I fundamentally do not believe so. In fact, I am a firm believer that in the ‘post covid-19’ world, we will see human connection increase, as we actively seek out the experiences that we are craving right now.

We connect as humans because it’s our innate behaviour.

In the context of events, retail and hospitality – these are our outlets for connecting with others – whether it’s catch ups with friends over drinks, or the advice of retail staff on your new jeans – humans connecting in real life and in face to face conversation can never truly be replaced.

Thinking back to our campaign for Visit Victoria – Melbourne, as we demonstrated in our social experiment, runs on the fuel of human connections, collaborations, innovation and its (what I believe) biggest asset - its people.

I moved back to Melbourne in the height of Covid-19 – from Bondi to Brunswick East – swapping one hot spot for another! I moved back to be closer to my partner, friends and family - especially for the upcoming birth of my first nephew. Never have I ever craved human interaction as much as those first few weeks of his life where I couldn’t give him a cuddle or visit my sister and her husband.

Seeing Melbourne’s retail, hospitality and events heart shut down over the last month has been soul destroying, However, seeing the immediate passion, collaboration and innovation of its people come to life and adapt, time and time again has been truly inspiring.

From Shane Delia’s Providoor to Fed Sq’s virtual Square, Ben Shewry and Dani Valent’s Attica Soup Project to Co-Lab Pantry a digital pantry bringing the best of Melbourne’s food scene to your front door - Through real-life human connection, these initiatives show Melbourne’s connectivity between people and its collaborative nature - helping to get us all through.

Call me idealistic, but I believe that our ingrained desire for human interaction, connection and the collective energy of other humans will come back with a vengeance as soon as it’s safe to do so – and we in the events, tourism, retail, hospitality and arts industries will be waiting, patiently to facilitate as much as possible!

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