How do we embrace available technology to connect?
If you’re like me, you may not be aware of all the possible technological tools available to counter the “disconnect” we are experiencing these days. We may not feel savvy enough, but it is possible to learn something new every day, if we choose.
Our connectedness has been forced into dormancy as a result of the current viral pandemic. This situation has set off cravings for in-person social activity, as never before.
Certainly, we are seeing a lot of creative ways people are finding to connect despite the current restrictions, such as:
--Waving a “Hey!” across the grocery aisles or to passerbys walking down the street
--Complimenting someone’s hand-made mask (while keeping our distance – of course)
--Honking our automobile horn at others as we drive around with the windows open
--Shouting a “Good dog!” to the neighbor’s pet, who (we hope) is truly constrained by electronic fencing in their front yard.
--Picnicking with our child in an empty grassy neighborhood lot, local park, or own backyard
--Talking to the birds, trees, flowers, bees, deer, and bunnies (they won’t pass judgement…)
Ever notice how we crave things we don’t or can’t have? Think about it. Through our lifetimes, we’ve experienced rejection from people who didn’t feel the same about us. We’ve been denied favorite TV programs that suddenly go off the air. Foods and products we crave are no longer manufactured or sold (…..and now toilet paper is nowhere to be found).
Denial is not fun, but isolation doesn’t improve things either. The trick to staying inspired is to find more ways to connect than disconnect. Humans connect through similar experiences, fears, and moments of joy. (Otherwise, why have we been given such an array of emotions to feel?) In the most positive context, finding those who have met and beat the challenges we face, gives us hope, “This, too, shall pass”! Connecting helps us all – whether we are the ones reaching out, or the ones embracing others in.
That said, are we practicing that possible higher level of accessibility through virtual tools to “visit”, meet, learn, even volunteer? Intimate friendship has extended to the world community as “We’re in this together” has emerged.
Though using technology is not the same as in-person activity, it’s something!
Let’s consider our social networks as an example. Over the last 18 years, our social networks have become instrumental in everyday connecting for meeting new people, communicating with others who can’t be together (even when physically close by), to maintain/grow our customer/donor base, and as a learning tool.
Social networking is not just for the young and technically savvy. Some 80 to 90+ year-olds use Facebook, for instance. They’ve learned how to post, read, and respond appropriately. It’s a way to keep abreast of all their family members, when they themselves can’t move well or travel around like they used to. Their circle of friends and family has narrowed as aged others pass on. Social networks and other technology allow the elderly to be present (virtually) for their loved ones, still beaming with pride as special moments are shared through photos, videos, and comments.
Social networks can be a vehicle to grab attention! Post just about anything to get a reaction. We see sympathetic comments when we are upset, or acknowledgements when we feel alone. There’s usually someone who will agree with us, offer opinions (whether we ask for them or not), or suggest interesting solutions. Funny photos, GIFs, and videos make us whimsical, bring a giggle, or promote the desire to share with other network friends who need a lift.
We get a chance to know people we thought we knew, even better. Social networking facilitates new friendships from would-be strangers. Shared, compelling, inspiring stories draw us in for more. Human interest tidbits play on our emotions. Aside from the immediate satisfaction of absorbing a specific post, the post drives a reader to point it out to someone else. This connects the reader with other on-line readers, by sharing through e-mail, or simply reaching over to the family member (who’s allowed to sit next to them) to suggest they take a look.
When we see interviews with famous people, or posts about their everyday life, that (normally unseen) human side gathers us in. We find they are people – just like us!
As a vocalist/musician, I could spend lots of time posting music, trying to compete with every other musician on-line. I don’t seem to want to do that. Instead, I prefer to catch up with my closer connections through supportive commentary. However, “being human” has helped me get some positive attention. When I do post something personally, I allow my human imperfections to show through.
Just the other day, I played my guitar and sang on my front porch. I wore no makeup, scruffy clothes, and my hair had its “getting too long” wild look. I decided to revisit and video record an old original song I hadn’t performed in a very long time. The next day, I videotaped another original song – while nicely dressed and make-up on. I posted both videos on my Facebook page. Of the two, I received more views and positive reactions from the date I looked my worst. People enjoyed the HUMAN side of me. It was about me sharing myself, the music, and the story, and not about appearances.
Social networks don’t have to represent constant public relations or advertisement. They can be a genuine means of showing who we are, and maintaining supportive relationships. When we see posts that grab our heart, we have the opportunity to respond with encouraging comments, a silly emoji, or by picking up the phone to cheer up a friend that sounds blue.
We all probably understand that 150+ comments, thumbs up, or heart graphics, don’t usually make us feel better than a real heartfelt hug from a real someone who cares enough to be right in front of us. On the other hand, during times we can’t be in front of that someone, we can still be genuine and caring, by responding to our social network contacts with positive, encouraging comments when they feel the need to reach out and share.
Let’s keep connected (through technology for now) -- and Stay inspired,
Paula C Snyder
**Excerpt/concept from Paula’s soon to be published book, “Staying Inspired”
**Staying Inspired Artwork/Layout Created and Article/Blog Written by Paula C Snyder © 2020 – All Rights Reserved**
2013 Paula C Snyder and Grandma Paula photos by Chris Florio were made possible by the Regional Artist Project Grant. The Regional Artist Project Grant is funded and administered by the United Arts Council of Raleigh and Wake County. This project is supported by the N.C. Arts Council, a division of the Department of Cultural Resources. The program is operated in partnership with the Franklin County Arts Council, Johnston County Arts Council, Vance County Arts Council and Warren County Arts Council. http://www.unitedarts.org