Meet my friend Jeremy.
I live in Vancouver, BC, Canada, and he lives in Brighton, in the UK, a distance of over 7,600 km between us.
I met Jeremy IRL in 2015 when we were both flown to New Orleans to attend (as influencers) a conference. We met up again the following year in Chicago. Despite only seeing each other for a few days per year, we kept in touch via social media, and last summer, I got to visit Jeremy in the UK.
I’m bringing him up specifically for a couple of different reasons. Social media, like everything else, is good and bad. The other night, my sweetie and I went to a new cocktail lounge near my house. We sat at the bar and chatted up the bartender and talked geeky stuff about cocktails. The young married couple beside us, travelling in Vancouver from the US, spent almost the entire evening scrolling through their phones. It made me sad.
But on the other hand, social media can also create connection. Jeremy is a great example of that. We use What’s App to text each other and send video messages and photos. Despite the huge distance between us, we are able to stay connected.
Jeremy took upon himself a challenge in 2017. The owner of a greeting card company, Jeremy decided he’d send old-fashioned cards through snail mail for an entire year to see how it made him feel. Would he feel more connected to the people he sent the cards to? He also made a weekly vlog about the process (I shot one with him while I was visiting him in Brighton, you can see that video here) He just wrapped his project up, and you can see his reflections on it here:
I will say that I loved being the recipient of Jeremy’s cards several times in 2017. It was always a brightening experience to get one, as it’s something that is so rare in today’s world.
I also recently discovered this lovely TED Talk by Mark Shapiro of AreYouBeingReal.com.
Mark also took on a year-long challenge. He sent a video message to everyone on his Facebook on their birthday. And the results were really interesting.
I think the key here (and while both Mark and Jeremy were working in different mediums, I think you see a similar conclusion) is authentic connection. Whether it’s a 10-second video, or a hand-written card, it’s really the thought the counts. I’m not much of a card-sender, but about 6 months back (before I saw Mark’s video), I started sending video birthday greetings to my friends via Instagram. And the results have always been positive.
We have these wonderful tools to create connections with each other. But at the end of the day, a tool is still just a tool. It’s how you choose to use it (or not) that really makes all the difference in the world.