Or, Why I’m Here
A few years ago, I had one of those moments of clarity, where the thoughts and anxieties and complaints that make up your internal dialogue stop whirling around in your brain just long enough for you to see the truth outside of yourself.
I was sitting with a group of women in Uganda, where I was visiting a program supported by the international organization that I worked for at the time. These women had formed a microfinance group in which they pooled their savings and invested them in one another’s businesses. One woman sold fruit at the market place. Another operated a small café. The leader had opened a series of businesses, each one building on the last.
I found myself thinking, “now this is real. Here are these women, coming together and depending on each other. Not just for friendship and moral support but for their very livelihoods. This circle in the grass, right here, right now, is all the evidence I will ever need of the fact that we belong to one another.”
I came home deeply affected by this moment, and many others far more emotionally challenging. I found myself regretting that, with everything we do have here in our overwhelmingly blessed country, we seem to lack an understanding of just how much we are defined by our connections with, and our dependence upon, others.
I deplored the fact that what connections we had were becoming more and more abstract as we increasingly relied on what I saw as artificial forms of communication. I avoided the blogging world and I scorned Facebook.
But then, one day, I took a peek. I visited Facebook – entirely for work purposes — and I discovered all the gut-wrenchingly cute videos of baby animals and the links to Buzzfeed articles. Then I started finding friends I hadn’t spoken to for years. Then I started forming connections, realizing that people I hadn’t given a thought to for over a decade were far more interesting than I ever knew. I was hooked. My online life had begun.
It’s an undeniable fact that we will always need the face-to-face connections we have always had with one another. But it is also undeniable that there is no escaping this brave new world of abstract cybernetic connections.
It’s taken me a long time to get here, but here I am. And Another Thing, Hon, is my place in this vast, virtual universe that makes up such an important part of the connections we have with one another. I hope it will become a place where people feel that they belong, where we share stories that make others laugh, and where we affirm that we all have important stories to tell. Our own intangible, but still very real, circle in the grass.