Monday, January 23, 2012

How Connected are We Supposed to Be?

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

Facebook.  Twitter.  Blogspot.  Wordpress. Pinterest. Forums. Skype.

The list could go on and on of ways we are instantly connected to others via electronics and phone lines and wi-fi.  It's a good thing to be connected...right?

Certainly it's a great way to share information and learn from others.  I know my sewing skills have increased dramatically over what they used to be largely because of the online sewing community.  And it's a wonderful way to know what is going on...who needs prayer...where and when I can meet up with friends...


The truth is that we carry a teeny bit of responsibility for everyone we are in contact with.  The more we're in contact with them, the more responsible we are to be a positive influence, to help bear their burdens, to value them as fellow humans.

One of my favorite authors, Laura Ingalls Wilder, lived in a world that only had instant communication with folks who were in the same location.  To communicate with folks more than just a few miles away took great effort, whether it was a journey in a horse-drawn sleigh, buried under blankets with heated rocks or a letter that was written on both sides and crossways to squeeze every last thought into the least possible paper, both to conserve paper and to keep the expense of the postage at a minimum.  The letter might take a month to six weeks to get to its recipient.

Her world of contacts, until she reached adulthood and began writing, was very small.

And even after she became well known for her writing, contact from the those outside of her little community in the Ozarks was still limited to hand written letters and the U S Post Office. Even then,  Laura's world was small.

Now the internet has given us a very large networking yields instant contacts with hundreds; with blog sites and such it's potentially thousands.

I recently read an article that said that people who had higher social network interaction with folks tended to describe themselves as less happy than people who spent less time on the site. I don't know if that's because unhappy people are spending more time on the site trying to fill a void, or if spending time on the site actually contributes to unhappiness.

I know I've had my moments of misery when I've gone online and stumbled upon photos of my social-network friends having a lovely time at a party to which I was not invited.  Without the internet, I'd've known about the party...maybe, anyway...and shrugged it off.  But it's hard to shrug off so many photos of so many folks having a perfectly lovely time without me.  That little voice of the Enemy seizes that opportunity big time.  And those pictures have a way of resurfacing with new tags or comments and suddenly the event that I forgot is all in front of me, reminding me that I ...didn't make the cut.  Wasn't worth inviting. Wasn't wanted.

Whatever.  You know what the Enemy whispers to you in similar situations.

But of course its impossible for me to be invited everywhere.  I couldn't go if I were. And I've wasted precious moments being hurt over such things...when I have family that I haven't connected with in ages.  What's up with that??

But I've found I can't just drop off line.  I have friends on the internet...old school friends, singing group friends, sewing friends that I've never met in real life but who are my friends anyway....connections that would be painful to break.  And despite my intention to stay off Facebook for the fast, I keep finding myself there.  Because it's the communication link of choice with people with whom I need to communicate.

So I'm asking many connections can a healthy human maintain?  Really?  Are our face-to-face connections seriously weakened by time and energy  diverted to virtual connections; are the virtual connections necessarily bad?   Or is it really just another version of the old party line?  With the gossipy neighbor who'd listen in on conversations just because she could?

These are the kinds of thought processes that I'm working through.  Should my internet involvement change permanently?  Am I trying to spread myself too connected to too many...?

Am I trying to fill a void with the internet that could be filled so much more satisfyingly Elsewhere?  Do I use the internet...blogging, facebook, forums, way to substitute many shallow, minimally responsible connections for the important ones in my own house/family/neighborhood/city?

Or is this just my equivalent of Laura's yellow tablets, written from edge to edge with no margins, because I must tell the story whether or not anyone reads it?

I don't have least, not now, not yet...but these are the questions I'm asking.

And I'd written all that and was about to click 'Publish' when I realized I was about to post it to the sewing blog.  I'd written it all in the wrong place.

There's probably a lesson in that...

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