Connection in Disconnection – 2021 Themes

March 5, 2021 Luis Seijo

Connection in Disconnection- 2021 SXSW Theme

Who would’ve thought that over the course of a year working from home or spending the holidays on a Zoom call was going to become the “new normal”? As social distancing became our best safety measure against COVID-19, we looked to our webcams and social media platforms for solace. With the constant use of these online platforms, the fatigue sets in as we long for days of genuine human connection.

Community-sourced Conference sessions span across seven programming themes for the 2021 event. The Connection in Disconnection theme explores how we can return to a world where individual concerns give way to embracing the value of humanity.

Browse Connection in Disconnection highlights below and click through to explore the complete list of 2021 SXSW curated sessions.

Startups That Are Re-Thinking the Future of Belonging

Belonging is a basic universal human need that pervades every arena of our lives. Over the next decade, loneliness, disconnection, disaffiliation and exclusion are expected to be more pervasive. In many ways, the avenues for belonging have diminished or become hidden. Tech offers opportunities to pioneer new approaches to find the validation, support, safety, connection, and meaning that comes from belonging. During this session, Vanessa Mason, author and Research Director at the Institute for the Future, will discuss how applying futures thinking to tech can illuminate how founders can examine how to re-design products and remodel approaches tech-enabled services to fulfill the basic human need for belonging.

Sex & Politics: Dating Through A Decade

2020 will be the year that dating was forever changed. During a year of unparalleled political, economic and social change, singles now want more from dating including a desire for a relationship over casual dating; more meaningful conversations, and more honesty and transparency during a date. In this session, renowned anthropologist Dr. Helen Fisher and evolutionary biologist Dr. Justin R. Garcia, will discuss 10 years of dating data and trends found from the nation’s largest and most comprehensive annual scientific study, Singles In America, including how the global pandemic, the rise of video dating, and 2020 election transformed singles’ approach to dating, sex, and love.

Unravelling the Social Dilemma

Social media has a maturity problem. It isn’t. Despite its age, we’re dealing with a child. Its growth has outstripped our ability to create the social norms we need to humanize it. So, it burns, unchecked, through our public and private lives. A place for the very worst of us. It’s fueled by a dominant public narrative which plays up the fear, fanning the flames. It’s shown as a world of individualism and fear, of fake news and conspiracy. This needs to change. Social also brings out the very best of us. By connecting us as individuals, it fosters the value of humanity. Social connects, it inspires, it makes us laugh, it creates opportunity, it provides emotional support, it enables debate, and encourages mutual good. We need to help social grow up. Join us to find out how. Join Jeremy Hollow, Founder + MD of Listen + Learn Research and Jillian Ney, Digital Behavioral Scientist at The Social Intelligence Lab to find out how.

Indigenous Storytellers: New Tech, Timeworn Tales

When people speak of underrepresented communities, indigenous people are often left out of the conversation. Yet their history of living storytelling is similar to what is found within so many other marginalized groups. This panel brings together successful women who are using the power of immersive technologies to share the history and correct the misconceptions around indigenous people. Social impact champion Jessica Lindl will moderate this discussion, asking each panelist to offer their experience utilizing technologies such as virtual reality and game development to amplify the issues and tell the stories that make up the rich narrative of their communities. Find out how these same tools can be used to build bridges among other underrepresented groups. Join Jessica Lindl, GM and VP, Social Impact, at Unity Technologies; Gloria O’Neill, President/CEO of Cook Inlet Tribal Council, Inc.; and Sarah Eagle Heart, CEO of Return to the Heart Foundation.

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