I had the opportunity to be part of several events, visit people and attend functions for the past two weeks. Personally for me, it just reinforces the value of really meaningful social connections rather that the digital relationships we have today.
I've been one of the early adopters of the home office concept when I decided to join my parents in the translation and writing business, taking full advantage of the advent of emails to work from home or anywhere else where you can bring your laptop. While working online has brought enormous benefits, I'm not too sure of online social.
The good thing about social media is that we can keep in touch easily with so many more friends. But the downside is that digital interactions may reduce the number of times we actually meet. Sometimes, people are so engrossed with the digital world that they forget that they are actually meeting people in real life.
As somebody who has lapsed into the comfort zone of working online with minimal social interactions, I'm slowly beginning to realise the value of actually going out, or even going out of your way sometimes, to meet people and be part of the community.
I used to be highly active in university, getting involved with all sorts of projects, apart from playing hockey. But as you try to make a living and build a family, many other things take a back seat. Connections are made, but business connections rather than social ones. Many projects get done, but business ones rather than social.
I feel that the most meaningful connections that last till now are the relationships built when we travel with someone or play in a team or organize a project with them. Even with those you did not really like, you can still feel the connection when you meet after a long time.
Visiting the sick or old friends in need is just much better than just giving your support online. Believe me, the benefit is also for the person visiting, apart from comforting those being visited. It just allows you to reflect about the importance of health. Much better that realising something is priceless only after we lose it.
Going to a place of worship, standing shoulder to shoulder with others and getting involved is surely better than just praying at home and listening to sermons on Youtube. You feel part of a bigger picture, part of the community. More meaningful than updating your status with one or two supplication or prayers.
I've got friends and relatives who contribute towards and are involved with the Sikh Temple and Church regularly and I feel their outlook towards life is much more community oriented.
For Muslims, there is a much greater reward if you perform your prayer in a congregation rather than praying alone. While people assume that the reward mentioned is for the hereafter, I think that there are enormous benefits for the here and now too.
Teaching is another great way to give something back to the next generation. If you make a good impression, the kids will remember you and you make a connection for life. There are so many things that you can teach if you have some skills, including English, maths and sports.
There is a saying of the Prophet Muhammad (SAW): When a man dies, his deeds come to an end except three things; ceaseless charity, knowledge which is beneficial or a virtuous descendant who prays for him [Sahih Muslim].
Nowadays we live in a highly connected world but we probably growing further apart. Social media is a great way to keep in touch, but it would be much more meaningful if we could also just go out and touch someone.
I end this posting with a nice song by James Blunt aptly describing the world we live in today:
"All her memories have been experienced through, high speed on a video screen, that's all she ever knew. Did you know that none of it is real if you can't feel the beating of someone's heart. Don't leave yourself in the dark." James Blunt, Satellites.