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connecting loneliness

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Editor’s Note: How to Connect

Loneliness is the pain of disconnection, according to Dr. Vivek H. Murthy, former surgeon general of the United States. What humans describe as feeling lonely is not about being alone, it’s about being removed, disconnected from other people and what matters to us, Murthy writes in his new book Together: The Healing Power of Human Connection in a Sometimes Lonely World. “What matters is not the quantity or frequency of social contact but the quality of our connections and how we feel about them.”

Even when we are alone and relaxing, our brains are primed and ready for social interaction. “Even if we don’t realize it—even if we think of ourselves as profoundly introverted or task-oriented—we spend most of our time thinking about other people,” Murthy notes.

For example, neuroscientists have found that the medial prefrontal cortex is active during what is called self-processing, when we are thinking about ourselves—our preferences, our hobbies, our personal decisions. Scientists theorized that this part of the brain should dim when we focus on others, but the opposite happens. “When we’re engaged with others, activity in this supposedly self-centered region accelerates,” writes Murthy. “So we evolved to have brains that are wired to seek connection, to focus our thoughts on other people, and to define ourselves by the people around us.”

Murthy adds that disconnection is a challenge with many layers. For example, researchers have identified three dimensions of loneliness: intimate—longing for a close friend or partner; relational—longing for social companionship; and collective—a “hunger for a network or community of people who share your sense of purpose and interests.”

Collective loneliness confronts many security professionals as the pandemic prevents them from connecting with their peers in the industry, those who form a community of shared interest and purpose. Combating this disconnect is the mission of GSX+, a virtual experience taking place 21–25 September that is designed to foster communication, connection, and education in the security industry.

Attendees can access more than 80 education sessions in live and on-demand formats (read more in this month's ASIS News). Keynote presenters such as General Stanley McChrystal, cybersecurity expert Keren Elazari, and author Max Brooks will offer insight into navigating the variety of challenges faced by security professionals.

The GSX+ platform puts the focus on connecting with other security professionals and organizations of interest through an advanced chat function, networking activities, speaker Q&A sessions, and one-on-one meetings. GSX+ attendees can learn more about ASIS certifications, membership, standards and guidelines, and security careers by visiting the Hub.

Since COVID-19 emerged, personal connection seems more remote than ever. The GSX+ experience offers a respite from collective loneliness, a way to learn from and connect to your community. Register today at