I have played with the idea of disconnecting myself from social media, including these blogs of mine, for several months now. I have not yet found a response t my question: is this worth the time I invest writing and researching? who reads me? what difference are my posts making in other people’s lives? More importantly: are they making any difference in their everyday resolutions, commitments, behavioural changes? Are they making any difference to the state of the planet with all what’s going on ecologically, politically, socially and economically?
I ask similar questions about my own engagement with social media: this becomes more obvious when I see more and more of my connections making the decision to deactivate their Facebook profiles or disengage from groups.
Facebook is only 13 years old, I joined n December 2008 after a lot of pressure from my partner (I didn’t see the point of it at that time, I was focused on working, reading, gardening and dreaming). I joined Twitter a few years later (and only use it to share articles). This and my other blogs were started only a few years ago (March 2012), my profile still reads: “Welcome to these exercises inside the dimensions of what we are: we are what we dream and think and feel, but we are also the different characters we perform, not just the roles (mother, wife, friend), but those things we call “occupations” or “earning a life”. More than anything, we are part of a giant ecosystem and all what we do connects and impacts others (people, animals, plants, air, water…)”
As a Canadian-immigrant (and previous to that, a refugee and an immigrant from Argentina to Venezuela), Facebook has allowed me to re-connect with childhood memories as I found old friends and family members, now dispersed all around the world. I haven’t seen many of them for more than 40 years, and it is very unlikely we would ever visit each other (who has the money and time to go to so many places, even if the will to see and hug each other is there?)
Through Facebook, I have also “met” incredible people who are engaged in projects all around the world. I have joined groups where I met people who know what I know about the world and express similar feelings. Through all of them, I have learned about my little brother (who is turning 38 today) resisting with his co-workers, friends and community members, the lay off and closure of his job of 18 years in an Argentinean newspaper. I have learned about people fighting against Monsanto in Argentina, resisting the dump of toxic materials in the water of my friends in the Cowichan Valley, and the teaching of Permaculture in places as remote as Marshal Islands.
Unfortunately, I don’t have the time or the energy to write well-researched blog posts as many of the bloggers I follow do. I don’t have a good camera (only my cell phone) so I cannot share nice pictures either. My posts are usually a reaction to a read, some news or simply something that needs to be written and shared. Looking at the blog from a friend who graduated from the same life coaching course I did, I feel my blogs are old-fashioned and boring. I don’t receive 100+ of visits and the “likes” and comments can be counted with the fingers from one hand.
Blogging, for me, is a very lonely business…and sometimes I question its worth.
There is a lot of conversation and concern around Internet privacy and safety and how what we post, share or comment may shape our future options for travelling, getting a job or even living safe. This is even more real for those of us who are “different” and belong to a “minority”.
I wonder what would happen, how our lives would be if we all suddenly “disconnect”. If we stopped writing (and reading, sharing, commenting) independent blogs or reading, sharing and commenting news and ideas through social media, how our lives would change? How would our communities? Our own power towards the powers-that-be? Would it diminish or increase? Or just change?
Has all this hype around social media and blogging empowered or disempowered us? Has it been a diversion that kept us with the illusion of “connection” when in reality has stolen our hours and energy, making us think that we are well informed and connected because we can read the news, stories, joys and struggles from people living 1,000 miles from us?
I have many projects this year, fewer than last year as my full-time job (26 miles away or 3.5 hours of return public transit everyday commute) and my own health and energy levels are dwindling, making me much more conscious of where, with whom and what I invest my time and energy. Since last year, I have started offering free-of-charge life coaching to people who have the potential to wake up (or are already awake but overwhelmed by the task ahead), so my time has switched from garden-food-sovereignty and emergency-preparation/permaculture to a more one-on-one soul-care work.
Three separate blogs (on mainstream permaculture, my own projects and life coaching) are too much to maintain for this soul. And soul is calling more and more, leaving me empty for community and grassroot committed work.
The sun and my aging animals are calling me more and more. My projects are increasingly inward and much less community-based. I am wondering how much do I want to continue giving my time and energy to a world that is not paying attention.
Three years ago, I still held the hope that initiatives such as permaculture and the many social entrepreneurships and grassroots groups sprouting everywhere would create enough traction to change the gears towards spirals of abundance, healing and re-generation.
Being part of many of those groups and initiatives myself while staying connected to mainstream showed me otherwise (it was a difficult but necessary decision, not just because deciding otherwise would have me leaving people I care a lot behind, but because I felt responsible for those still in sleep-walking state, which is the majority of mainstream people)
What staying in mainstream showed me was how small and powerless all those efforts and initiative are: how far away from people’s needs and hearts they still are, and how disconnected from reality.
I still think those initiatives need to continue and require our support. I’m not young, smart or knowledgeable enough to start one myself, but I support the ones I can. But I no longer delude myself with them. I live immersed in mainstream: I see the hordes of peoples still driving cars, flying to faraway places, buying stuff, stomping into shopping malls and filling their grocery carts.
Worse even: I see tons of good and decent people working their lives away (I’m one of them) to fill the gaps of real needs occurring right now and right here, gaps and issues created by systems too complex and huge to change or destroy. I feel many times that I’m putting a band-aid to giant dying being who will die anyway. The band-aids continue falling apart and take all of my time and energy, but if I stop working on them, the pain of this dying giant will trickle through so many innocent lives and places.
I know what we should do: we should all stop putting band-aids, we should all stop “connecting” to share the pain, and start working on regenerating the soil and ecosystems around us. But how do you do that in a suburban area where most seem to be walking dead?
I travel to places where people are already connected to the land. I backpack to these places and enjoy being with those whose hearts are not yet dead. But I have failed to see how that life can be reproduced here among those living paycheck-to-paycheck, those living on the streets and those trapped by mortgages and never-ending debt.
I also see other signs that concern me more: I see each group narrowing their struggle to cover only their interests: women, African-American, LGBTQ, Native Americans, Latinos, Muslims and all in between trying to make their cause bigger than the next. Those fighting for years for equality and justice stuck in old concepts and hatred between “classes” and putting people in boxes, and those helping “without barriers” ignoring and even degrading any political/social or ecological explanation to the causes of the issues they are trying to band-aid…
That’s why I have slowly but surely decided to focus on what matters now and here: the birds that visit me everyday, my herbs, my aging cats and my dog.
I can’t help it and I still have a line-up of workshops promised…but I no longer cling to the “hope” that any of them would make huge difference in this world.
I don’t know if this may be my last post or if any changes will come to my blogs. I may decide to merge all my blogs into one, post only once a month or put them to sleep for a while.
If you are reading this, I have a small piece of wisdom for you: stop reading, get outside and look at the birds and the sky. Walk, smell the wind, get into the wild, feel the attraction from all the beings and elements around you that keep you alive. Read a book, call a friend, cook something good, do something for someone just because it will make them happy. Grow a garden or just a herb in a container, adopt a stray animal, backpack and take public transportation, invite friends around a fire or even a cup of tea in your balcony…
If you want to do something really good with your time, join me: I’ll be one of six teacher assistants at Starhawk’s PDC/EAT in April-May, a long time dream of mine…
If you want to discover your gifts to the world and reconnect with the real life, try one of the programs from Wisdom of the Earth in Salt Spring Island (yes, I’m taking a few of their programs)…but whatever you do, remember who you are and what you are made of…