Less Scrolling. More Showing Up


Social media are great for developing community, but for true belonging, real connection and real empathy require meeting real people in a real space in a real time. Brené Brown

Braving the Wilderness

Chapter Six: Hold Hands. With Strangers.

A couple of weeks ago, I stood with hundreds of women and sang a song about seasons. It spoke to me poetically and prophetically and tears of joy streamed down my face. I turned to my friend and hugged her. She grinned back at me and said, ‘I know.’

The story behind those words spans a few years. We’ve journeyed together and my friend understood my tears and I understood her grin.

It was a personal, but also a collective spiritual moment. It was a moment of meaningful connection that can’t be replicated on Facebook.

Brené Brown writes about collective assembly, collective grief, and collective joy in this chapter. She says human connection is necessary and face-to-face interaction is primary.

I love social media, but I’m becoming more and more dissatisfied with distance and want more real-time interactions. I want to interact with real people, not avatars.

The tension is that real time, real space interactions are costly in time and effort, but real interactions are what make the difference.

Brené writes about how we need to show up for collective moments of joy and pain so we can actually ‘bear witness to inextricable human connection’.

On a personal face-to-face level, have we lost something in this media age?

Too often, we feel like we keep up with people on Facebook and know what’s going on in their lives. But what we see is a highlight reel, a curated snapshot, a persona.

We can make our lives on Facebook and Instagram seem exciting to others, but what they don’t see are the in-between parts. The parts that are boring, painful, fearful, the failures, the ugly parts, the unattractive pictures. Instead, we post the things that make our lives look fantastic…even when it’s far from it.

For the first time in years, I’m excited about going to church. This is my primary collective assembly opportunity. I also belong to the Inspire Collective and have connections with hundreds of creative women.

Attending a women’s conference with a friend next year will be another opportunity for collective assembly.

We have created a space in our home for guests and we have overseas friends coming to visit.

I make time to travel interstate to be with my daughter and friends.

‘Building your village is a matter of life and death. Social interaction makes us live longer, healthier lives.

 ‘Neglecting to keep contact with people who are important to you is at least dangerous to your health as a pack-a-day cigarette habit, hypertension, or obesity.

 ‘Research shows that playing cards once a week or meeting friends every Wednesday night

at Starbucks adds many years to our lives as taking beta blockers or quitting a pack-a-day smoking habit.’

Showing up for each other in times of grief, in protest, in shared social experiences, in worship is where real interaction occurs. Spending too much time on social media may make us feel connected, but at the end of the day, it’s not enough.

In 2018, my intention is to spend less time scrolling and more time showing up. In 2018, I’ll hold hands with loved ones and strangers.

Book Club Question: Do you think social media has affected the way we interact? Do you have a village, a community, a friendship group that shows up for each other?





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  1. Posted December 4, 2017 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

    Feeling very much the same Elaine. I have been so busy with work lately that I haven’t had time for much else. FB and Instagram have taken a back seat and I’m quite liking that. For me the real moments of joy are with face to face encounter with family and friends, albeit few and far between in this busy period, but when they happen, they are cherished.

    • Posted December 4, 2017 at 5:49 pm | Permalink

      I went out today without my phone-deliberately and it was great. I spent time with family and watched a movie. I think because of having to build an online platform as an author, I get sucked into social media and it becomes too much. Pulling back and keeping it manageable is the only way to do it.

      Face-to-face is the best way to connect. Hope your busyness improves after the ‘silly season’!

      • Posted December 4, 2017 at 6:31 pm | Permalink

        Good on you! Yep I struggle with the whole online platform building but it is necessary I guess? Let’s catch up in the new year.

  2. Posted December 4, 2017 at 8:27 pm | Permalink

    We caught up with dear friends this weekend, and both of us felt it was soul-restoring. To have food, conversation and laughter with those who know you, and have known you for a long time is gold.

    For us in this busy season of parenting school kids, we find that these moments are few and far between. So yes we have a tendency to fall back on social media (or even just texting) as a place of connection. But as Brené says: “Social media are helpful in cultivating connection only to the extent that they’re used to create real community where there is structure, purpose, and meaning and some face-to-face contact.”

    In the end nothing beats being with people to create community and connection.

    • Posted December 4, 2017 at 8:34 pm | Permalink

      It is soul-restoring to be with good friends and share laughter and stories. We spent time with our good friends as well and it was wonderful. xx

  3. Carolyn Dean
    Posted December 7, 2017 at 11:10 am | Permalink

    I think its played an enormous part in how we do relationships. I have really enjoyed that social media connection has enabled me to make and foster connection with people that I have met in a much deeper way than perhaps if I was limited to just casual, or intermittent catchups. This though is more for people that I have met through communities of shared interest. I have really enjoyed the richness that has come into my life in growing a huge community of like minded women that I can share life with, and that includes the ups and downs. I find social media allows me to connect with them on issues of the heart that would otherwise take much longer to achieve in a face to face relationship.
    I have always used social media as an intial platform to build into relationships, however there always comes the time when in order for true relationship you have to be prepared to take it further by making the time for the relationship face to face.
    I see my relationship on social media as a tool for relational growth, but part of beginning and engaging with that process is being aware that this includes also being prepared to “rock up” and being present in their lives.
    I think its easy to fall into the behaviour of thinking that just by interaction on social media we are making positive contribution into somebody’s life, but it must go much deeper than that. As Brene says, unless you are prepared to be there for those same people that you interact with on social medial in collective moments of joy or pain, the relationship really doesn’t stand for anything, nor will last. I think all social media relationships should be cradled with the same love, care and respect that any normal face to face relationship would.

    • Posted December 7, 2017 at 11:22 am | Permalink

      What you’ve said is so true, Carolyn. I love this ‘I think all social media relationships should be cradled with the same love, care and respect that any normal face to face relationship would.’ This sums it up. The positive outcomes from social media come from love and kindness. But, the care we put into face-to-face relationships is deeper. Wow! Great thought-provoking comment. xxx

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