I spend a lot of time, I mean a lot of time, telling my foster kids that the internet is not real. Whether it is TikTok, Snapchat, Instagram or Twitter, it’s not real. They get all caught up in the world of video and photo content. They can scroll for hours and hours. There are Twitter arguments that are far worse than anything we’d say to each other in person because they get to hide behind their screens. They use direct messaging on their apps rather than calling or even texting each other. But it’s not just them. I too can get caught up in the endless scroll of Instagram or Facebook. Looking at one curated representation of life after another.
But now, in this time when it’s unsafe and unwise for us to gather together, it seems that we need the internet to be real. I’ve spent all of this time trying to convince them it’s not real, but now we need it in order to be connected with one another. We need it so that we can see one another, hear one another, be present together even when we are in different places.
So how can we use the internet to stay connected without turning into zombies captivated by our screens? We have some tools—Zoom, FaceTime, Skype, and others. Now is the time to use the tools we have, to create and innovate new ones and new ways to use those that already exist. It’s time to figure out how to make it in this time of isolation. It’s time to create and innovate ways to stay connected.
In fact, for those who would like to check-in, I hope you’ll join the Front Porch Zoom call on Thursday at 3:00 pm:
And, when the pandemic has ended, when we can once again sit together face to face, share a meal, be together, then we have to remember the value of one another’s physical presence. Then it will be time to re-invest in new ways to meet IRL and to connect in new ways together.
In the meantime, we’ll be having Zoom gatherings and imagining other ways of sharing. I look forward to seeing you electronically soon. And, in time, we’ll meet again IRL.