Recently I found myself sipping on moscato with my girlfriends on the patio of a cute little dog friendly restaurant. As the wine flowed the conversation topics skipped about as it naturally does from work to relationships to upcoming plans- eventually landing up on some good natured ribbing related to my tendency to post pictures online of my survivalist exploits. For example the video clips of me furiously starting a fire or the pictures of my attempt at a primitive lean to shelter. In a rare moment of “realness” I mentioned that I feel more comfortable sharing intimate parts of my life publicly rather than sharing them with the people closest to me. Usually the medium is the written word but in that moment I made the connection that I also use social media in this way. I always associated my willingness to openly share all my weird habits, thoughts, and hobbies with the online world as some sort of predilection for narcissism however my friend had a different and very astute opinion on the matter: “I think because you prefer to spend so much of your time alone this is a way for you to be social that is safe for you- there is still that barrier that separates you from other people but it lets people into your world at a comfortable distance.”
My appreciation for the ability of my friends to see me much more clearly than I see myself knows no bounds because her comment instantly struck a chord. I realized that while I am definitely a very solitary person and often tire of the company of others easily- sometimes within minutes- I still yearn for human connection. People are by nature “pack animals.” We are not meant to lead completely isolated lives. While I get plenty of people time through my work and choose to socialize sparingly, there is still a need for me to share the intimate parts of myself with other humans. I just prefer to share the small achievements, strange hobbies, and random thoughts that occupy my brain without the discomfort of being vulnerable with someone face to face.
Oddly enough, the things that I share are usually things that people would prefer to keep to themselves or only share with their closest confidants for fear of ridicule or judgement- I mean, how many people really want to tell the world that they make fires in the woods for fun? I would imagine that my openness to share my inner thoughts through blog posts probably seems odd and attention seeking. My willingness to post pictures of my woodland exploits is unusual. My little projects, like digging up old grist mills and cleaning shards of clay pots and buttons in a stream, would paint me as odd and different to most people today but would probably score me a date in 1863. I was definitely born in the wrong century.
The fact that I post these activities online is not a “look at me” scream for attention or validation. Rather, it is a safe way for me to feel closer to others while preserving my precious “me time.” And while I don’t care if the world sees me as odd or different I realized I don’t want to do weird things alone forever and I don’t want to keep sharing my life with people from the comfort of my computer. I hope that as I continue to make progress towards becoming the best human that I can be, I can work towards being less guarded, less fearful, and more open to letting other people into my life.