Posts tagged reclaiming conversation
It’s a wrap! September 2018

All I think of when I think about September is the LifeStartFest. At the end of August, we started organizing a careers festival for students in Bangor and I was lucky enough to be one of the key people in making the event happen. Luckily, I wasn’t responsible for the logistics because that would mean I’d order the pizza from the US and the balloons to Bangor in Northern Ireland as we happened to learn in the process. I was tasked with programming it all and making sure our attendees would have an incredible experience. You can read more about it in my case study.

Because of the LifeStart event, and next to my usual community work, I spent most of September thinking about hosting gatherings and creating inclusive environments. Over the years, I’ve been a part of many online initiatives and learning how to sort out conflict and create a friendly environment online. Yet with how the social web’s evolving, I’ve found an increasing joy in thinking about offline experiences. The Art of Gathering by Priya Parker is one of the most useful books, and just like Reclaiming Conversation by Sherry Turkle, it’s a must-read for everyone who deals with communities.

I was also fortunate enough to be invited to the Community Summit at the TechFest in Copenhagen organized by my friend Severin Matusek and his co-matter studio.

One of my highlights of the month was that I joined as a founding member in Berlin. So far, I’ve participated in two events and it’s been incredible to witness how they facilitate gatherings. I feel like I have so much to learn from them. And so, if you ever get a chance to join one of their events, I’d highly recommend it.

In October, we’re opening a new round of LifeStart Challenges, which is what will be my focus of the month. If you have some small projects you want me to help out with, please let me know. I’d also love to get involved in creating event experiences, so if you think having a community strategist on board would be of value, please reach out.

What sort of things do you share on social media?
reclaiming conversation

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How often have you googled someone you’ve just met? How has your perception of this person changed once you’ve clicked through the first search results, their Facebook images, or what people wrote on their timeline? Does your perception of people who you’ve known for years change or at least manifest because of social media? 

In recent years, I’ve had many conversations about how to navigate the internet. In my opinion, social media – as it is today – is a tool that gives us access to information and people, independent of their ancestry and their social status. Pretty much anyone is accessible. Pretty much anything is available through Google. 

My answer is always more or less the same. To use the internet to your advantage, use it as if it was a wish list; a wish list of activities you want to pursue, people you want to meet, topics you want to talk about...

Once you put out there what you’re good at, what you can offer to others, and what you're truly and genuinely excited about, people who are looking for you will find you. 

So that's one perspective and the reason why I like the internet so much.

On the other hand (and if you’re friends with me on Facebook, follow me on InstagramTwitter, or LinkedIn), you might have realized I share something almost daily. However, I'm very aware of the things I share. Unless others do, I hardly ever share my personal life online. I use Facebook to promote my work and spark conversation about topics that are important to me, and I use Instagram as a way to express gratitude for the little things and to say thank you to the people who cross my path. What I don’t do online is I don’t share how I feel or what’s currently bothering me. That to me is private. 

Now, what I find interesting is that to others what I – or let’s say people in general – share online makes for the whole picture. People would sometimes say “...but I know you’re well because I’ve seen it on Instagram.” 

… Really?

What I really wonder about is why so many of our relationships have become passive? Why do we believe that by liking our friends' images, they’ll know we’re thinking of them, that we care for them?

In recent weeks, I've been reading Sherry Turkle’s books. Turkle is a researcher at the MIT and her work is dedicated to digital media and its impact on interpersonal communication. I’ve been reading her books slowly because she gives a lot of food for thought, starting from the possibility to marry a robot in the future, how we’re more comfortable going to bed with each other but not talking to each other, and how true love is a lack of desire to check one’s smartphone in another’s presence (she quoted Alain de Botton here). She, of course, makes more general points, but I wanted you to think about some of them specifically.

Besides recommending you to read Turkle’s Alone Together: Why we expect more from technology and less from each other and Reclaiming Conversation: The power of talk in a digital age, I’d also recommend asking your friend when you can next talk on the phone or meet in person before you assume everything’s great and they don’t want to hear from you. Because they do. 

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