I grew up watching the fantastic TV show – Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom. It was an amazing show because they went around the globe showing the reality of the natural world which I was oblivious to. Mind you, this was long before the personal computer or the internet were even ideas. It was a program we’d watch as a family on a weekly basis.
I remember watching in fascination the life of the African Savannah. The animals ranged from giraffes, elephants, hyenas, cheetahs, and gazelles. There was an episode showing how the cheetahs would hunt for their prey and I was glued to the screen. When the gazelles stayed in their herd, the cats couldn’t attack. There was strength in numbers. Inevitably though, there would be one gazelle innocently eating tall grass without noticing the herd had wandered off leaving them alone.
All of a sudden, the chase was on. The cheetah had been patient, and now it leaped into action. The young gazelle was quick and darted back and forth to elude the cheetah. In the end, it didn’t end well for the gazelle. The cheetah overcame its prey.
The lesson I took away from this was to make sure I was never isolated. I understand the natural interaction of hunter and hunted in the animal kingdom is a matter of survival. These types of chases are going to occur all the time.
Isolation though has become a choice lately. I’ve noticed a crack in the foundation of social media in its various forms. I remember having a conversation with my brother and sister-in-law back in 2007 about joining this new platform called Twitter. They had joined and thought it was something I’d enjoy. I was skeptical and didn’t see the point. I checked it out and decided to give it a try. I’m glad I did because it opened the world of others from my profession I didn’t know even existed.
I also chose to be more visible and active on other platforms including, Linked In, Instagram, and Facebook. Since then, platforms have come and gone. They’ve evolved or devolved as the years have passed. There have been ebbs and flows on each one that have influenced the decision for people to participate in them or not. I remember the period of “shaming” that occurred as well chastising peers for not using social media.
Through it all, I have chosen to remain active. There is one primary reason for this – the people. Please understand when I say this I’m including those who differ from me in their thoughts, content, and approaches to the medium. I also have thousands of people who share some common thread binding us together. It’s like having a global “herd” of connections.
Over the past few years, and especially this year, I’ve seen people choose to drop away from one platform or another. Some have chosen to disconnect altogether. I’m saddened by this and yet understand. No one should be forced to participate in a forum where they feel it runs contrary to their beliefs. Blind conformity is never a good reason to be involved anywhere.
At the same time, I’m concerned because I sense a growing movement of isolation is what is occurring. The robust friendships and connections I’ve built over the years are waning and are possibly going to disappear because we aren’t together on this platform or that. Social media eliminated the barriers of time zones and geography. We could connect with the punch of a Return key on our laptop or phone. The vast majority of people I’ve come to know over the years have been virtual connections. It’s very cool when we’ve had the chance to meet in person and I cherish that. The in-person connections, however, are the exception versus the rule.
I don’t have a solution or a call to action to offer. That isn’t typically how I like to write. I’m hoping that staying the course and doing my best to continue, create and foster connections will stem the tide of people dropping away. I’m not sure it will.
I do know this . . .
We are better together than if we’re isolated.
I want to see people around the world come together to learn from each other, have intentional conversations, and improve the world of work and the world in general. We were created to be together and be a community. The forum doesn’t matter to me. Staying connected does.
I hope you step in with me.