Today I’ve been thinking…
We live in the 21st century. We are connected to everyone and everywhere in the world, through every kind of method. As an example, I am on Facebook, because it helps me stay connected with all my friends and family, and share pictures, comments or whatever; I am also on Gmail, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest…
Some of those are just to share photos or thoughts, other really are to connect. Yes, I make a distinction; for example, I don’t use Pinterest to connect to people, but to collect images.
Anyway. So I used to use MSN, and I would chat with my mum and my nan over there. I have friends who are on Skype, but for some reason, I just don’t like it. Now, I’m forced to use it, actually, only I don’t. I’ve moved to Google chat. It’s right there, on my email. My brother uses it and he introduced me to it. He doesn’t like other methods of communication (online, that is) so that’s what he uses mostly.
I chat with a couple of friends on Whatsapp, which is easy and cheap if you have friends abroad! See? Now that I don’t use MSN, my mum has moved into Google chat to stay connected. My nan has tried, but I don’t think she understands it enough to use it, so she keeps commenting on some random photos I posted on Facebook aged ago, mainly asking me how I am.
So Facebook. I don’t like its chat, and mainly use it for sharing photos, sometimes thoughts, and pretty much seeing what my family and friends are up to. I know some people use its chat a lot but I kind of feel annoyed whenever I have to chat over there, just because this or that friend uses it… I do it anyway.
Twitter is different. Twitter is what I use to follow sites and news. I stay connected to the world through it. I read the news there, and stuff about design and photography, also comedy. It’s the only place where I follow God (@TheTweetOfGod), but I also follow @BettyFckinWhite… However, a couple of my friends like talking over there, so I use it to chat with them. I don’t mind this one, actually, I kind of like it…
I have another friend who only sends SMS, never calls, never talks over Whatsapp… Strange one, but ok, if that’s what they like!
So basically, there are a million different ways to stay connected, and if you want to keep up with all your friends, then it seems you need to be a member of all of them. It’s tiring, isn’t it?
Today I was thinking… Am I really connected? As in really?
As you know, I’ve done some volunteering work lately, very simple, nothing overly taxing, but still, I’ve helped others. And you know what? I felt connected with these strangers, if only for a few minutes or hours.
I find it very difficult to create a proper sense of belonging with the people that surrounds me when we are all just looking at our phones for the next meme, the next tweet or the next whatever-the-next-thing-will-be.
Talking to strangers is rewarding, if daunting sometimes.
Yesterday, we cooked for charity. We helped by making dinner at a Roland McDonald house in London, and it was amazing. We didn’t really meet any of the families staying there, but the fact that it was a bunch of people, all colleagues, working together to make something for others was the amazing part. We weren’t trying to sell anything, or we didn’t have a hidden agenda (as far as I’m aware anyway); we were just there, working together to help. Isn’t that beautiful?
When I came back home, I saw this lady, pushing a pram, and pulling a kid’s small bike. There was a baby in the pram, and she was carrying another one in one of those kangaroo-style-thingies they have nowadays. Next to her there was yet another kid, most likely the owner of the bike, who was riding a scooter. I know, too many kids and too much stuff! If you’re wondering how she was managing, let me tell you: she wasn’t. Before I even thought about it, I approached and asked her if she had far to go, and whether she needed any help.
The look on her face… well, you don’t see that online. She was moved. She was surprised that a complete stranger offered to help her. She rewarded me with the biggest smile I’ve seen in ages and then, politely and grateful, refused. Fair enough, she was almost at home, she said (she probably thought I was going to rob her or something!)
When I was leaving, the kid on the scooter asked her “What did she want want?” and she replied: “That nice lady wanted to help us carry everything home, wasn’t she great?” and she went on to giving some useful lesson about manners and being kind to her kid.
If I had kept my headphones on and walked looking at my phone, two things would have happened.
One, I would have probably walked into a post, or get run over by a car; and two, I would have never experienced that short exchange with another human being.
Don’t get me wrong, I love technology, and I’m the first one who enjoys time alone and all that, but I also love human contact. I crave it.
So next time you see me walking on the street, just come over to say hi!
I’ll leave you with some of the photos from yesterday’s volunteering work, I hope you like them!
And this is us, with all the food we made: