A Virus Changed My Mind About Connecting

I don’t know why it takes me a bit longer than it does other people to get onboard with some things. In some areas, I’m an early adopter. On others, I’m painfully slow.

Only recently, like in the last few days, have I opened my eyes to making more connections online. I guess it took a virus for me to see things differently.

I love connecting in person.

Actually, that isn’t exactly right, I love connecting in person in a real and meaningful way. I actually can’t stand small talk. I’m challenged by conversations that go no where or always stay surface level. I’m always waiting to get the relationship to the next level where we can really connect and talk about something that matters.

If you ask me about the weather, my head begins the countdown to a nuclear meltdown.

I know. It’s a littleā€¦something.

But here, after a lifetime,  I am finally in this place where I really think there is something great about getting to know people. I really enjoy hearing their stories and how they got to where they are, discovering their strengths, and learning how we can both help one another. Working with another person who is committed to a higher goal, who is professional and wants to do a great job, who wants to get the right things done, who wants to teach others and learn.

Those are connections that I really get excited about. When I’m working with someone towards a mission. When we are bouncing ideas off one another. Challenging one another respectfully but deeply and meaningfully. When they are showing me a different perspective. When I learn from another person.

I really get off on that. It is something I’m always striving for myself and looking for when connection and building relationships.

I haven’t always felt this way. I didn’t always understand people.

I never understood people when I was a kid. The reasons people did things eluded me. I couldn’t predict their behavior with much accuracy at all. I could see lies all around me and it bothered me a lot. I loved reading and writing. And had a bit of a scientific way of thinking about things. I wanted to understand how things worked.

I devoted much of my life to behavior and how people act and react. I studied a lot. I watched every interaction around me for years, for decades, cataloguing and dissecting. All of that studying helped me to understand people more and to not feel as much like an alien as I did when I was a kid.

And still, somehow I resisted the online world. I’m on social media, but I with all these rules in my head about how I used it and who I would connect with. To what I’ve now realized, I had these rules to a ridiculous degree.

I get why I resisted. I felt that the connections online were like a video game, it’s a virtual world, and you can see in people’s behavior that they do things they would never do in real life. So, I didn’t interact except for fun or to connect with others that I already know.

Then, this pandemic hit. And like most everyone else, if I want to connect with others, I have no choice but to do so virtually.

While I was realizing this and coming to grips with it, a light bulb went off. As I regularly counsel others to do, I looked at my principles and values. I realized that I was making judgement about how some people were using social media.

It was small minded. And in the real world, I would never have put up with that sort of thinking.

This had become a blind spot for me. Now, that I’d used my mirror to look myself in the face – I was ready to make a change. I’m using that mirror to get rid of that blind spot.

It’s only been a week. Now, I am regularly connecting online. I’m accepting connection requests. I’m seeking others online who want to connect and do so in a meaningful way. I’m learning how to connect in a virtual world because it does connect to our real world.

It is a tool for connecting with amazing people all over the world. In just the last few days, I’ve had some amazing conversations with people who I probably would never get a chance to see in every day life. It’s really something amazing to be connecting with someone in Italy or France, Nigeria, the UAE, Australia, Korea or Japan. Getting to know them, hearing about what life is like right now, and how we can maybe help one another get through this. Spread a little positivity and hope. That sounds like a good reason to change my rules.

I’m not sure why it took me so long, why I was so resistant, and why I never thought to think about online the same way that I do about how and why I connect in my real life.

Maybe, it’s time to stop thinking about the social and virtual world as something different than real life. It’s just life, and it’s about how we live it.

It’s ironic that a virus that caused us to stay away from one another so we don’t infect one another allowed me to start connecting more.

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