I love Daily Om. It is a website providing inspiration and guidance on a range of topics. Each day, I receive an essay, a thought on a particular topic. As is usual, I am behind on my reading and while doing so, I came across a piece titled “A Citizen of The World: Vacations.” Travel is high on my list of things to do and that I enjoy doing. I am convinced travel that is an invaluable way to experience another country and its people. Yet, more and more, I’ve come to believe that one needn’t get out of their pajamas to gain some of the same benefits.
What I am talking about is instead of hopping on a plane, train or automobile, social media has become an alternate vehicle. Initially, I was resistant to the idea and concept of Facebook, Twitter and the others. The idea of accepting a ‘friend request’ from someone who I knew little to nothing about, was intimidating, and to an extent threatening. The questions of whether people were truly who they claimed to be and privacy were huge hurdles that I had to overcome. At the urging of friends and family, and to keep up a connection with them, I bit the bullet and joined both Facebook and Twitter.
I, like most of us, still have major concerns about privacy and the rapidity at which the lines separating one from the other are blurred. As time passes, I see my participation on Facebook as a way to reach out and say “hello” to those who are way outside of my comfort zone, and geographic location. I know that many people reserve their friend requests for those within their own sphere of reference, and I can appreciate their choice. In my case, I find that it limits my opportunity to meet and get to know others from locales, places and countries different from my own. When it comes right down to it, it hinders my ability to expand my frame of reference. Routinely, I find myself accepting requests from people who I’ve never, and may never, meet in person, and that excites me.
My Facebook “friends” include people from London, Belgium, Australia, Spain, France, South America and beyond. The more that I communicate with these friends, I realize that the world has indeed grown smaller. Many of us, wherever we may live, share the same benefits and burdens of life. We share the same basic quandaries, securing a roof over our heads, putting food on our tables, and paying for the needs for our basic existence and survival. In spite of how different we believe that we are, the truth is that we are more alike than different.
Each of us faces the job of raising our children in a world that sometimes seems mad, negotiating relationships with family, friends and acquaintances, questioning our roles and paths in the world, and experiencing self-doubt about ourselves and where we fit in this huge interconnected world of ours. Yes, in spite of the obvious concerns brought by Facebook and other social media, the benefits of experiencing other people and cultures, outweigh them. The experience and expanded knowledge is a perk that I am not willing to give up. What about you?