My name is Kaesavan Selvakumaran. I’m in my 4th year of the Health Science program. First and foremost, it has taken a lot of hours to get to this point! As the founder of this organization, I’m excited to bring to you something that I’ve dreamed of starting since coming to university. Although I never have imagined that it would manifest in the way that it has, I’m excited to go on this journey with my team to help students develop more meaningful human connections during their time on campus.
According to a 75 year long Harvard study, it indicates that the best source of happiness is found in our relationships. Yet, we as students forget that tending to our relationships is a form of self-care. We as students struggle to tend to these relationships because we are often too busy with school. Too busy getting those grades. Too busy trying to secure that job or secure a position in graduate school. And for us millennials, we are often guilty of being too busy on our digital technologies. Overall, the systems and technologies that we are controlled by end up having social implications. Today, as much as we like it or not, live in a superficial digital age.
These social implications are best illustrated through an all-too-familiar example. Remember that party or social you went to as a university student? You walked into the room and it was filled with three types of people: the people you knew, the people you’ve heard about, and the people you’ve never met before in your life - all staring at you at once. Your palms are sweaty so you clutch your phone harder and start making your way into a social bubble so that you don’t feel left out. You laugh awkwardly at jokes that aren’t really funny and bring up the last exam that you did, because hey, you worked hard for that exam and people can relate, right? Sometimes, the very social circles we are a part of prevent us from talking about how we really feel at the moment or talk about things we really want to talk about. You want to get intimate and vulnerable with those around you, but you can’t. Because everyone else is too caught up with trying to fit into the social bubble or trying to feel that they are a part of something. Unfortunately, much of the human interactions in university feels like this. While it is completely normal to feel awkward as hell in a place like this, we unfortunately continue to go on with our lives not knowing the thrills beyond the small talk or truly connecting with people face-to-face.
Unfortunately, the place where we really feel like we are connecting with others is through our social media. Don’t get me wrong, I love vibing with people over memes that I’ve been tagged in. But what are the implications of getting our fulfillment only from an online setting? You end up having surveys that claim that 68 percent of millennials actively avoid face-to-face conversations. In fact, you also get a study claiming that 30 percent of millennials cancel or just don’t go to events they’re invited to because they fear it will be socially awkward. I feel that the only reason why we, the millennials, are dubbed the “socially awkward” generation is because our digital technologies are contributing to such social implications. Grades, getting into grad school, or getting into the competitive workforce make things much worse. Since being here at University, these observations have always made me wonder: have we lost the art of conversation? Is our generation doomed? Will we ever return to the good ol’ times?
Thus, I created The Human Book Collection (THBC). I created this organization, not because I thought I could eliminate our social deficits (because frankly, we live in a system that prevents this from happening) but, to create spaces and experiences on campus where people who really want to connect can connect. If you think I’m talking about a networking session, that really isn’t the connotation I am going for. THBC is proud to coordinate a variety of initiatives that helps students connect authentically with each other - starting with our Human Library for the 2019 year. We believe that these spaces can allow you to go beyond the surface of the conversation and being vulnerability brings us closer to others. While it may seem that social media stalking is an important life skill to get to know people, we believe that it is time to truly connect with ourselves, familiar faces, and new individuals at University.
If this is a movement you really connect with, we really encourage you to like us on Facebook and keep yourself updated on upcoming events through our website. Our team of creatives are also hoping to create digital products such as Youtube videos that capture the idea of authentic relationships, empathy, intimacy, and connectivity - so if that interests you as well, check out our website! If you are interested in joining our team, feel free to connect with us through our email - we always welcome newcomers! The THBC family hopes that one day this organization can be a source for re-kindling human connection on all campuses. We are excited to have you join us on this journey! Until next time, spreading love and kindness to you all!