Temporary gap, pause, break or absence…
I’ve been on a hiatus, just like my favourite TV show goes on every summer and Christmas. My hiatus, however, was more of an unplanned one. Life has just gotten away from me. Or if I flip the script, as my cycling coach would say, I have been living life, rather than writing about it. Given my summer hiatus, and the living of my life, one would assume that I would have some juicy stories to tell or mind blowing epiphanies to share. Or even a cliff hanger to keep you watching (or reading). Not so much.
My focus of late has been on finding connection offline and cultivating meaningful relationships with those who I value as a part of my life. I’ve not only been on a writing and posting hiatus, but a more general, social media hiatus. This digital detox was powerful and brought my usage, and over usage, of these media into sharp focus. My escapist tendencies to want to dive into the impersonal world of ones and zeroes was put on hold. At least temporarily. As I spent time with friends and family; attended events and parties; and also increased my one on one time with my girls, I thought about the world of social media and how it both connects and divides us. How it is such a powerful tool for uniting but equally as powerful for dividing.
As a wise and wonderful Goddess said to me, “social media is a great connector.” We both agreed that it is a great tool to encourage connection. To find old connections and forge new connections. But it does not sustain connection. Merely “liking” someone’s Facebook status or latest upload to Instagram is not, in my humble opinion, real connection. Especially, given that many do not even look at the image posted and even fewer “friends” or “followers” will read the words. A double tap and like is given, because my image, thought or word, showed up on their newsfeed and the expectation is an acknowledgement of some kind. It is part of the “culture” of Instagram to double tap as quickly as possible, all the way down your feed, without much more than a cursory glance at what was posted. In many respects, a follow or a like has become somewhat meaningless.
During my hiatus I needed to find my purpose with social media. Somewhat disillusioned, I needed to find, and believe in, a motivation to continue to share my words, thoughts and ideas. I needed to find the meaning.
The meaning for me has always been personal. Using my words is both cathartic and therapeutic. A way to make sense of my thoughts, feelings and experiences, to share and to find commonality and connection. There are and can be connections made. And a sense of community, of not being alone in the storm. I have always felt that if one person took comfort in my words and realized that we all share commonalities, including our struggles and dark times, then I have found meaning.
Yesterday I went for an epic 7 hour hike , up and across 20 km of alpine meadows. Passing lakes, glaciers, wildflowers, cougar tracks and the occasional grouse. It was a cool, grey summer day. The mountains were hazy and misty. Not many would venture on a day like that. But there were five of us gathered together, with our backpacks full of provisions and prepared for the weather. We inhaled the sweetness of the mountain air and began our ascent, quiet at first until our breathing found a pattern. The musical din of our voices keeping us entertained and (hopefully) the wildlife at bay. My four friends and I shared an adventure of enormous proportions. And we all connected initially through social media. Initially through a love of hiking and mountains, but more significantly by sharing and experiencing them together. We connected online but deepened that connection with our time together and the sharing of thoughts and experiences, all while taking in the great beauty of such a remote and calm environment.
Not all connections can be maintained in face to face manner, given distance and time and our new ability to connect globally. However, I do believe that true connection requires more than a “like”, but rather, an intention to forge community and a kindness offered to weather the storm together.