First you need a little backstory to see how I arrived at the "a-ha"…I am recently divorced after 26 years (nope, not gonna blog about that part!) At the encouragement of a good friend (Thanks, Mary!) I signed up for Match.com just to sort of get my feet wet. After all, I'm ONLY 46 and got married at 19. I could potentially claim to have never actually dated….you don't really "date" in college, right? So many potential blog posts about the whole dating thing, but THAT is not happening…read on….
So, I painfully wrote a Match profile that really forced me to describe myself, examine just what I might think I was looking for in a person. One of the things that is important to me is an open-minded, always learning attitude. For example, if someone on Match emailed me, we talked back & forth, eventually getting to "what do you do" and I say social media? If their response is something like, I just don't get that stuff…seems worthless. My response is "delete". (not learning, not open-minded, not connected)
Being connected is important to me.
I am super connected, I connect people via social media as a part of my career. I believe in the power of connectivity, about half of the women who have really walked with me through the past year I only see a couple of times a year, they live in California, Texas, South Carolina, all over the place. I'm totally cool with having long distance friendships…these friends are super digital, we video-chat, we FaceTime, text, IM….we connect online WAY more than in person.
I also very much value the amazing group of my friends that I see face to face all the time where I live. So this actually made me start thinking….just how do I define connected? After all, my more local friends are definitely less connected, with a few of them really not technology users at all beyond texting. Why do I not "delete" them?
Because they ARE connected. They connect by calling, inviting, learning, loving, listening. They are connected to their parents, their neighbors, their community, their children, their friends. The connect authentically without technology by reaching out.
So this made me think of people I know that are connected, but disconnected. People I know that are always on a computer or their cell phone and I'm not sure what color their eyes are, because when you are with them they never look up. People who text a thought or feeling that deserves to be delivered or discussed in person, but texting lets them hide from the emotion you can't help but witness when you are face to face.
So my "a-ha", YES, I value being connected, but it isn't the technology at all. When I first begin working in this job, I was overly connected, addicted to a Twitter stream and the myriad of valuable education related chats, this is my 3rd year doing this now. For the past year, I have been working on balance. I'm using my vacation days, I shut down my computer at night, I (usually) leave my phone in my purse at lunch and dinner. I call people more often instead of texting them. I'm certain I have spent time in the last few years, being VERY connected but VERY disconnected. Sitting in the same room with people but my cell phone buzzing w/ tweets so I'm constantly glancing down at it, my iPad right next to me or my laptop slightly open so I don't "miss anything".
This reflection also made me think of the judgement we "connected educators" sometimes throw at the educators in our schools who don't use Twitter, don't have an online PLN, BUT they are quick to walk across the hall, chat with others in passing, meet and work on projects. Connecting can be defined more broadly than online.
So, I DO value being connected, but it is the people, not the technology…proving once again, no matter what the topic, it always comes down to relationships!