Positive Vibes — Virtual Life

 In Relationships

John: It has been a crazy week. Kelly got diagnosed with a bacterial infection last week and between work and spending the time with her, well, it’s really all I have time for. But that’s not what made it crazy. What’s made it crazy is all these messages I have received from people saying “where are you? Where are you? You’re not online. You are not responding.” No, I’m not. And you know why? It’s because I am tending to things and living my life, doing the things that really matter. 

What happened to the time where you can step back, do what you need to do and not get besieged by people wondering what happened? I remember a time where you could call someone, you would leave a message and then you would wait to call back. If they didn’t get back to you, it was because they either got busy and forgot, or it was because they didn’t want to talk, or had other things going on. 

To me, relationships are a game of tennis. You hit the ball over the net and then you WAIT until the person hits it back to you, but over the last couple weeks, I am feeling like the automatic ball return is on and blasting balls at me and I can’t return them all. And I don’t want to return them all. I can’t return them all. 

Sandy, there really is something to this. What I am learning is that the virtual life is not my life. My life are the people that I interact with in person every day, that the false “influence” and social media super moguls and messaging is not all it is cracked up to be.

It’s draining. Okay, I know there is research out there that indicates that online relationships affect people similarly to real-life relationships. This goes for romantic relationships and friendships too. I agree that both involve a similar hit of dopamine, but for me, real-life beats virtual every time. Online relationships and personas are not success. Neither is a giant house. Or a six pack abs or fancy clothes. Success means putting in the hours, shutting down that dessert, waking up for the gym, not hitting the snooze button, making personal connections, practicing over and over, and doing one thing every day that moves you forward, whether youfeel like doing it or not

Success is what you did to make those things happen. And more than that, success is what you did to make those things happen, even if they didn’t actually happen.Success is not networking to find the hidden job market. It is putting in the work at the things that are important to you. It’s an, well, its an INSIDE job, isn’t it? 

Sandy: Wow John, you have a lot going on here!  First of all, I’m so sorry Kelly has this health challenge, and hope she will be feeling better soon.  It’s wonderful that she is your major priority (as she should be in a good relationship), and that you are spending your time and thoughts on her right now. 

There are many positives about technology, but also many negatives.  I believe that technology is useful for exchanging information and staying in touch about many things.  

However, it’s become such a huge part of some people’s lives that they think connecting with others through it makes a relationship.  I’m afraid we’ve lost the definition of what a true relationship is.  Obviously there are all kinds of relationships. We have some kind of relationship with the folks we work with, the clerk at the store, our friends and acquaintances, our family, neighbors, and all kinds of other folks.  There are as many kinds and levels of relationships as there are people and situations. 

Unfortunately, many people think that because they connect with someone through technology they have a relationship, the definition and depth of which is open to each person’s interpretation.  One person might think because you email with them you are “close”, yet you see it exchanging information with someone you know, but with no emotional involvement. 

I remember the olden days when I was young and dinosaurs roamed the earth.  We had one phone, attached to the wall, in one room of our house.  If we had a conversation on that phone everyone else could hear it. 

To connect with people we went out into the world, and were able to form relationships by actually being with people, looking into their eyes, hearing their tone of voice, reading their body language, and relating in person.  This is how we formed strong, long-lasting relationships. 

Also, is those days when we left work we were off work!  We had free time to do whatever you wanted to, without being interrupted by, or having to answer to, random people at all times. 

Yes, having to be available all the time is exhausting and intrusive. Technology has made it so people expect us to be available 24/7, and when we aren’t they get angry and feel slighted.  They forget that it’s not about them.  We each have the choice whether to be available or not, and it has nothing to do with the people in your virtual world.  We all need time to be left alone. 

I agree that relationships are like a game of tennis.  You hit the ball over the net and someone hits it back.  They might do it immediately, later on, or never.  That lets you know what level of relationship you have. 

I have trouble with the concept that online relationships affect people the same as in person relationships do.  I’ve seen research that shows that always being technologically connected actually separates us from real-life relationships and leaves people feeling empty. 

I also completely agree that success isn’t about the stuff.  True success is definitely an inside job.  It comes from having positive self-esteem, believing that you are a loveable, valuable, capable, competent person.  Always treating yourself with respect and expecting others to do the same. 

Please comment so others can benefit from your wisdom and experience.

Sandy is now offering a FREE Coaching Call, so you can see what Coaching is all about.  Please email her at Sandy@insidejobscoach.comand put FREE Call in the Subject Line.  She will get right back to you to schedule your call.

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Showing 2 comments
  • Cathie

    Very interesting, as always. I wonder if part of the problem with this is the expectations that we unconsciously (possibly) set up ourselves. For example, I know there are some people that always respond very quickly when I send them an email. If I sent a few emails over the course of a couple of days and didn’t see a response, I would probably wonder if there was a problem. Other people, like me, sometimes respond quickly at times and slowly at other times. Sometimes, I need to do something else right now or I need to think about my answer to an email. But, most people with whom I communicate have learned that I am not likely to be an immediate responder. Or, if they don’t know that, they will learn it pretty quickly. 🙂

    So, one way to avoid this constant barrage when you need time for other things is to think about the expectations we may help set up ourselves and work on adjusting them. Of course, some people still won’t “get it.” Just a thought.

    • Sandy Abell

      All excellent points Cathie. I agree that we each need to take some responsibility for what we teach people to expect from us. If they are used to a certain behavior pattern and then it changes, they will be confused unless we give some kind of explanation.

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