Day 137-139 – Hug anyone?
Over the last the last few days, I’ve had a chance to catch up with some friends who I haven’t seen in awhile. This afternoon, I reunited with some friends in my master’s program. We met in High Park and had an amazing picnic! Few of the people that met actually live right in Toronto, and some of us keep in contact quite regularly through phone or skype. But chatting and laughing over some good food and throwing the frisbee around seemed worth the trip. The sense of community we have in our program is important to all of us who were there. In fact, that sense of community is way more important than I think we give it credit sometimes.
Facebook can be addictive at times. I think we all agree on that. When we’re online and there’s nothing to do, that newsfeed helps pass a few minutes. Rolling your eyes at the newest inappropriate status update is intertwined with genuine happiness for the latest friend who just announced their engagement or the birth of a friend’s child. At the core of what facebook offers is a sense of community. And that is important. Facebook allows us to be a part of something without being there. For anyone over the age of 30 (even 25 for some!), social networking happened in the playgrounds of your neighbourhood, in the stream a few blocks from your house, in the alleyways where bikes congregated after school. This is where our community existed – outside. And although it’s easy to be critical of the kind of community that is essentially being created online, it doesn’t take away from the fact that people are still searching for those communities, even if it does mean sitting in their room alone. That sense of community drives us – it is something we all strive for. Perhaps FOMO is the best example… Fear Of Missing Out! When you’re a part of that community, you don’t want to miss anything that is going on around you. And so visiting that newsfeed dozens of times a day is that way of staying in the loop, of maintaining that sense of community.
In this digital age we live in, we’ll continue to find new ways to be part of a community. Because it is important. But sitting in the shaded grass this afternoon, I reveled in the possibility of actually looking into the eyes of my friends as I chatted with them. I reveled in the passing of food across the blankets. And I reveled in the energy of a good hug. The sense of community I feel through facebook is important. It is a way of staying connected with people who are nowhere near me. But it will never replace the power of community I experience when I am face to face with friends. And although from time to time that might mean traveling a little bit extra to experience that community in the flesh, it seems worth the trip. Well worth the trip.