One of my college professors in sociology assigned, for one of his textbooks, a paperback volume entitled, predictably, The Social Animal.
I’m not sure I buy into the “animal” part, but I have to say, when it comes to “social,” there are a lot of people who will step up and admit, “That’s me.”
I’m not one of them. Give me a book and a cozy corner—preferably with a fireplace, and on a rainy day—and I’d be content just to while away the hours in solitude. The quiet of seclusion makes for better concentration.
Yet a funny thing has happened along the way in spending untold hours working in front of a computer screen: I actually find myself liking the chance to escape the office cubicle and share a cup of coffee and a meandering conversation with someone else.
There is something energizing about connecting with real people. I find myself coming away from face to face conversations, full of ideas for new projects, or solutions for old problems.
Who would have thought a cup of coffee and a couple of hours with a friend could do something like that?
I’ve heard someone assert that we become the sum of the people we surround ourselves with. Even a quintessential loner like I am can agree to that. I find myself gravitating toward the positive, the creative, the inspirational, the accomplished in human form in those moments when I can connect with others.
Yet, after discussing the benefits, yesterday, of drawing our energy from others around us, in retrospect, I realize that energy can be transmitted even when people don’t have the opportunity to meet face to face. Ask all those teenagers on the telephone if they feel connected with friends without seeing them face to face. Of course it’s possible.
After reading the comments to yesterday’s post, I realized we do have another energizing avenue available to us as genealogy researchers, even if we aren’t able to connect through activities like genealogical society meetings, as reader Wendy had mentioned. With all the social media outlets we have available at our fingertips, we have multiple ways to gain that energy of connecting. While you may not “tweet,” nor check your Facebook, nor decorate your Pinterest page, you and I—and everyone else here—are connecting every time we share the conversation via comments online. Intense Guy is right: participating in the crowdsourcing efforts of something like finding a way to send an orphan photo “home,” as Far Side does, is a way to connect. Sharing resources on genealogy blogs—as many of you have done here—is a way we connect.
The connections we make online are not exactly tangible, but they are viable relationships nonetheless. They bring people together with the same interests and goals—people who most likely would never have met, otherwise. When each of us adds our own touch to what the other has said, or found, or shown in a comment, we add that burst of energy that keeps on drawing us back for more.