Thursday, January 28, 2016

The Benefits of Online relationships

I will be the first person to admit that social media can be frustrating, but there are some major benefits to having strong online social networks.
As a society we are becoming less physically connected.  We don’t know our neighbors like we used to.  We also spend increasing amounts of time online.  When you put both of those concepts together you get a strong need for a social network online. Facebook and other social media platforms can serve a useful purpose in providing a positive social support system.
I am really enjoying reconnecting with old friends through social media.  I don’t have to wait for my high school reunion to catch up with friends near and far.  I love seeing pictures of their fun family vacations and their adorable grandchildren.  I had the privilege of serving on the board of a national association many years ago, and Facebook allows me to re-connect with many of those friends too.  

I was lucky enough to meet two incredibly lovely foreign exchange students from Thailand and France who I became very close with and now through social media I can keep up my relationship with them.  I can send a SnapChat message or share an Instagram picture with my 'extended children' around the globe.
Even my work building an author platform has enabled me to make friends with fellow authors near and far, and I can proudly say I have many new author and blogger friends via social media.  I even have the opportunity to interact with many of my favorite authors through social media. Our world is more connected than ever.  

Social media is changing the role and meaning of friendships in our digitally connected society.  I am NOT saying that social media replaces the need for authentic face-to-face human interaction, but it can add a great deal to your life.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Thailand or bust

The Grand Palace
There it was sitting in my inbox, the email from Groupon.  I don’t usually look that closely, but the first item in the email was a trip to Thailand.  A beautiful inviting picture of the River Kwai was prominently featured in the email, and it worked – it completely reignited my desire to visit Thailand.
Ayutthaya Ruins
Several years ago my family was incredibly fortunate to meet a young lady from Thailand who spent a school year living with us and stealing our hearts.  At first I was a little nervous about hosting a foreign exchange student, but as soon as we met Pannita we were instantly connected.  As our year with her ended, we hugged our Thai daughter and tearfully promised we would come visit some day. 

That was almost ten years ago and I still long to visit Thailand.  I have always had a strong desire to travel and seeing Thailand is at the top of my list.  Not only would I get to spend time with my ‘Thai daughter’ and hopefully get a chance to meet her family, but I would be able to see so many of the incredible sights of this beautiful country.   
Reclining Buddha

With thousands of years of history, Thailand has so much to offer. Some of the sites that are specifically on my list are:
Ayutthaya Historical Park – Exploring the beauty of history of the incredible country, the city of Ayutthaya was founded by King Ramathibodi I in 1350 and sacked by the Burmese in 1569.  These archeological ruins looks amazing
Bangkok’s Grand Palace - The palace has been the official residence of the Kings of Siam since 1782.
Damnoen Saduak Floating Market – shopping via boat sounds amazing
Elephant Nature Park – I mean who doesn’t want to hang out with elephants

I may not make it to Thailand soon, but I know I will make it there someday.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Time to take a Social Media Holiday

I was driving in my car the other day and I happened to see a family taking a walk.  It was a lovely day; unfortunately this family did not seem to appreciate the beautiful Arizona weather, as each member of the family was looking down at their cell phones.  Mom and dad and even what I assumed was Grandma were missing out on any human contact, completely engrossed in their cell phones.  The only one who seemed to be enjoying the walk was a small child sitting in a stroller.  This need to be so connected, at all times, completely overshadowed what could have been a lovely experience together as a family. 

Every once in a while I think we all need to take a social media holiday.  Just a day to unplug from the world around us; we need to unplug from world events, from war, terrorism, political rants, and from people who over share. 

Social media can be a fun and positive tool to connect with others, but is can also interfere with healthy relationships and experiences. 

We have all experienced a situation where someone completely missed out on a special moment because they had their nose buried in their phone.  At ball games, concerts, parties, you name it…people are so focused on their phones that they miss out on experiences and opportunities around them. 

Social media can also become problematic for some people.  It’s easy to become sucked in to the negativity that can pervade Facebook and Twitter.  Especially now, during an election year, the posts and comments can get extreme.  Watching people hurl vicious insults at each other can be very disheartening.  I care deeply about the future of this country, and I believe it is every citizen’s responsibility to be an active and informed participant in our democracy, but not at the cost of our own sanity.  Sometimes we just need to take a break and tune out all of the ugliness. 

Even personal relationships can benefit from an occasional social media holiday.  We all know someone who has a tendency to ‘over share’ and this happens on social media as well.  Being able to take a break and steer clear of any drama is not only a wise choice, but it is also healthy. 

Turn off your phone and take a walk.  Play a game or have a face-to-face conversation, instead of sitting around surfing Facebook.  Make memories without posting them for all to see.  We all need some balance in our lives, and taking a social media holiday once in awhile is a great way to achieve that.