Sunday, March 3, 2024
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Heartfelt connections in a digital age

In a world dominated by digital interactions, three determined women want to reintroduce the joy of genuine human connection, one conversation at a time

Despite our hyper-connected world, it is concerning how feelings of loneliness have reached epidemic proportions.

A recently published report based on data on connections and loneliness among people from 142 countries revealed that six per cent of people worldwide reported feeling not connected to anyone.

In the survey, ‘connectedness’ was defined as ‘how close you feel to people emotionally’ and though six per cent may seem like a small number, it translates to roughly 287 million people worldwide experiencing a form of social isolation or loneliness. It highlights the irony of our modern world – even with social media and digital communication promising connection, many people feel increasingly alone and long for real human interaction.

This disconnection however has sparked a newfound awareness among a group of inspiring women. They’ve recognised the need to address this rising loneliness and have come up with a straightforward solution: a deck of conversation cards.

These cards serve as a powerful yet simple tool, designed to help people step away from the digital realm and engage in authentic, meaningful conversations with one another.

‘React and Reconnect’ conversation cards. PHOTO: WARDI WASIL

React Impak, is a social enterprise consisting of three career women who strive to create a positive impact on the local level, with a focus towards serving the community’s needs and well-being.

“Our guiding principle has always been purpose-driven. As a social enterprise, we are not solely driven by financial gains as we prioritise making a positive impact on society,” said one of the three co-founders Fatin Muzini along with Shirley Sikun and Nazurah Salleh.

Their earlier initiatives were firmly grounded in the community, emphasised by their focus on promoting conscious consumerism. Their journey began in 2018 as a platform advocating for community-based products, particularly supporting indigenous communities, single mothers and women-run businesses.

Co-founders of React Impak, Nazurah Salleh, Fatin Muzini and Shirley Sikun with a guest during the launch of their ‘React and Reconnect’ conversation cards. PHOTO: WARDI WASIL

“Our focus has always been deeply rooted in the community, so when the conversations surrounding mental health gained momentum in Brunei, we recognised its significance and wanted to actively contribute to this dialogue.”

Although venturing into mental health was uncharted territory for them, they believed that the conversation surrounding mental health was essential.

This conviction prompted the trio of women to create the ‘React & Reconnect’ conversation cards – a deck of a hundred cards aimed at sparking meaningful conversations and connecting with both new and familiar faces. The cards cover a wide array of topics, including relationships, preferences, hypothetical scenarios, light-hearted fun, deep discussions and childhood experiences.

It features a variety of conversation starters, from fun questions like ‘Do you believe in aliens?’ to deeper reflections such as ‘How have you changed in the last year?’ and ‘What do you most regret?’ The conversation cards are intended for individuals aged 16 and above as the questions delve into topics that benefit from life experience and wisdom, aimed particularly at those who have lived a few years.

The cards cover a wide array of topics, including relationships, preferences, hypothetical scenarios, light-hearted fun, deep discussions and childhood experiences. PHOTO: WARDI WASIL

“These days – everyone seems to be glued to their phones, even in social settings like cafes. Conversations are becoming a rarity, with children engrossed in their iPads and various gadgets.”

With the conversation cards, their mission was to break this cycle and encourage people to put down their phones and instead, engage in real, face-to-face interactions.

“We’ve found a way to make this process enjoyable rather than a burden. By infusing fun into the mix, we’re transforming the idea of connecting with others into an exciting and delightful experience.

“We want people to rediscover the pleasure of genuine, in-person conversations without feeling like it’s a task. Our aim is to bring back the joy of human connection and community, one enjoyable conversation at a time.”

The co-founder said that although there’s a fun element to the game, their deeper hope is for people to be more open and accepting towards one another. They have received positive responses so far, and the three career women are optimistic that this positivity will endure, recognising the inherent value in these conversations.

The creators of ‘React & Reconnect’ want people to rediscover the pleasure of genuine, in-person conversations. PHOTO: WARDI WASIL

“When you explore the card deck and read the rule book, you’ll find that the game encourages players to adopt the right mindset: one of openness, devoid of judgment and criticism.

“We’ve deliberately created a safe space within these cards, allowing people to express themselves openly and honestly. We aim to break down barriers, fostering an environment where individuals can communicate without walls between them.” – Wardi Wasil