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May 22, 2015
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On Virtual Connection

virtual connection 1000I’m more introvert than extrovert generally, and when I feel tired after a busy day, as I do now, I usually like to recover with a bit of solitude. But I just realized that I’ve been alone all day. It’s felt far from it.

So far today, for example (it’s 3:30pm), I’ve hosted an online town hall forum for 150 people, hosted a post-forum debrief with four panelists via Skype, and led a pre-conference prep session for 12 people via webinar, along with having participated in two phone/video client/group meetings … all while juggling writing and social media work, and asking/answering work-related questions on Skype, Facebook, GMail and Asana. I haven’t left my home office.

This has been a particularly busy day for me, but I realize that most days involve at least a few of these virtual exchanges, even    while I’m physically working with people. In a typical week, I actually spend two-and-a-half days on-site with one client, and work from home or coffee shops, often with partners or teams, for my other clients the rest of the week–always with multiple conversations with contractors, friends, partners, clients and potential clients ‘going on in the background.’

 

So What’s the Value of the Virtual Connection?

Some days I feel invigorated by the ongoing multiple threads, and I happily allow one conversation to inform another I’m having with someone different. On wonderful days, I marvel at the synchronicities that emerge from the collision of real and virtual connection and collaboration; a client and friend here in Vancouver raved about a book of short stories by Amy Hempel last night while I grasped at memory threads to finally realize that a co-worker in London used a Hempel quote in her email signature (“I get rational when I panic”).

Other days I’m more muddied, and forget where an idea originated, and/or fail to give proper credit. I occasionally offer a bit of advice that I, too late, realize that I’ve originally received from the person I’m doling it back to. On these days I feel the voluminous overload of voices heard and typed and read, and feel not exhausted by people, but rather by struggling to understand, and learn, and communicate, far, far too many things at once.

I offer this post as a question for all of us: is connection found in quiet contemplation, or a conversation among few? Or can it be found in the chaos of crowds–even those virtual? And I ask not for a single answer, to answer the questions definitively, but more as a leaping-off point for answering the bigger and meatier questions: where do we find our best connections? And how can we nurture them, perhaps for different purposes?

I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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1 Comment

  1. Reply

    John Maxwell

    May 23, 2015

    To some extent it's got to be a 'grass-is-greener-on-the-other-side' thing... I think we need balance. I know that when we have students in session at SFU I crave quiet, alone work time. But by August, I crave noise and bustle. I think online connections are just another kind... Too much and you crave some other mode; not enough and it becomes appealling again.


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