It’s the end of the first week in the follow 150 challenge and I have successfully found 30 strangers to follow. Yeah.
I kicked off my online connections with these people to a grand total of…1 comment left. Hmm.
This is harder than I thought it would be. I’d like to excuse my lagging on the commenting as being pressed for time, but I don’t have to dig very deep to know this isn’t entirely true. I’ve never found talking to new people easy. Making those connections to a stranger at a party or event brings out my own special brand of awkwardness. So no big surprise, another introverted blogger.
I was standing in a room at one of those networking events recently. You know, where everyone is meant to just introduce yourself, ask something insightful, answer interestingly, repeat.
Instead I stood in the corner forming an opening line in my head until the room would clear, repeat. I would check my thirst levels, bladder levels or overwhelming need for another little triangle sandwich, and then would walk across the room looking purposeful, repeat.
Its ok I’m not speaking to you because look, I need to pee or make tea! Preferably not at the same time.
I feel my alternative digital existence wrapped around me at these times. Like a safe cocoon I let it surround me. I create and write the flowing words in my head and this I think excuses the lack of them in that moment. I don’t have to fully engage in this real world because my digital one is what matters. I turn my internet adventure on its head and imagine myself as the explorer thrown instead into an alien visceral world. I catalogue my observations of these strange beings and interactions, but must leave the local ecosystem undisturbed.
Here in the internet, I assumed it would be easier to talk to strangers. I thought perhaps I would finally shed my cocoon and transform into a social media butterfly.
Wasn’t that the point of the challenge, wasn’t that the trick I tried to play on myself? To force myself to not only follow along with the conversation and observe, but to actually make a connection to people.
The gap between online and offline is not so easily divided though. I carry my phobias with me in my digital self and the blank space at the bottom of a post seems to challenge me with the same expectant stare. Here in webland, I realise I am still tightly wrapped in the webbing of my cocoon.
I imagine people as blossoms, stars in the sky or pebbles on the road. Everything except what they really are because then there is no chance of judgement or rejection. If they are not real people, then there is no risk that they will disappoint or worse, I will. I emerge not as a butterfly, but the same pondering shy caterpillar faced was the same challenges in another guise.