The longing for connection in an age of social media leaves me puzzled. Well, it often leaves me feeling downright cold.
I can fully appreciate the ways in which our current technology perfectly mirrors where we collectively are in consciousness. The advent of the internet demonstrates for us the reality of our interconnection in ways that words or theories could never do. The astounding popularity of social media mirrors our desire to connect, communicate, expand our circles of influence, and personally realize that there is indeed only “six degrees of separation” among us.
So while I have in some ways embraced this instant sense of engagement I have also witnessed the ways in which it cultivates more of a sense of separation than it does actual connection. Things are said virtually that would rarely be said face to face. After all, it is easier to hit and run than it is to share and stay. I have been thrilled to “reconnect” with past acquaintances from long ago, only to find that there is no longer the resonance that had originally brought us together. I have received detailed and seemingly intimate sharing’s that fill in the gap of decades, only to find my responses unanswered and the disconnection re-engaged.
On my last birthday I received an enormous number of Facebook well wishes from mostly people that I do not know. I found it so curious. These were people that I had accepted “friend requests” from in a way that I now see as tertiary and unconscious on my part. I mean, it is sweet for someone to take the time to wish me a happy birthday. There is nothing inherently wrong or unwelcome in that. And yet I couldn’t find the felt connection in the greeting. I personally have trouble befriending someone I do not know. I can embrace the spiritual interconnection paradigm at the macro level, I really do. And I sure wish I knew the person portending love for me. I do not loose the perspective in this whole thing, and yet it voraciously called me to look more deeply into it.
I know that this internal exploration is a direct result of having spent the last five months teaching a series on various aspects of intimacy. I truly believe intimacy, belonging, and connection are the deepest desires of the human heart. I know they are for me. Having steeped in these desires for years and having stirred the pot briskly by my teaching activities lately I have come face to face with every place in my consciousness where I feel disconnected and out of touch with belonging and true intimacy. I have felt the underlying lack of integrity when facing my relationships on social media and cyber communication. I have stared unflinchingly at the way I show up and more importantly the ways I do not show up in my relationships. I own my place in parting shots and unconscious interactions. I have questioned my intentions and gone into the ways I reactively pull back. I have felt into the ways that online interactions can puff up or put down.
I awkwardly and yet shamelessly began to engage in a Facebook purge. I looked at the listing of nearly 900 “friends,” and was first tempted to simple close down the entire account. Then it occurred to me to move through the list, one by one, and wakefully relate to the being behind the surface profile. I decided to bless and release those of whom I had no knowledge. I discerned what connections were simply for the purpose of maintaining a long time acquaintance, and which “friendships” were merely enhancements of a much deeper relationship. I did feel a need to reclaim energy from enrollments that were clearly not nourishing and out of alignment with how I choose to interact. It was far from a perfect process. And it taught me enormous lessons about how I want to show up in connection and how I choose to court intimacy and belonging. I was clear from the beginning that the inquiry and subsequent action had nothing to do with the other and everything to do with what was moving inside of me.
When sharing this with an actual face-to-face friend I was met with something close to horror. “You shouldn’t ever un-friend someone!” I paused as I felt the shame wave pass through me. “But I didn’t know them.” She clucked and shook her head. I explained how I established a professional page for people with whom I minister, and that it felt like a more appropriate level of communication than sharing photos of my vacations and family reunions. She clearly thought I had made a severe social media faux pas.
I am clear that my un-friending frenzy was in service of a deeper connection and what for me is a more true sense of conscious belonging. If you happen upon this post and discover that you were among the many lovingly released, I am sorry if that brings about discomfort or offence. I seek only to reconnect with you in ways that are conscious and real and true. I want to consciously engage. I want to feel the heart behind the “hit,” the love behind the “like.” If my actions were unskillful they were most definitely sincere. I just want to be a friend to those I friend. I want a real and vibrant connection with those I choose to connect with. As I see your face I want to feel your heart. And I have by this process created more space within me to do just that.