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See and Be Seen

(My apologies for being over 500 words)

“Who are the people in your neighborhood….the people that you meet, the people that you greet each day?” 1

Prior to identifying challenges in one’s community, one must first define what community is. Ever expanding, ever contracting; a living force, dynamic, organic. Akin to giving birth, in the end you have this thriving, growing body (of people). A body with which to communicate, educate, love, learn…..

Technologies we have now allow us to create connections near, far, and everywhere in between. Therefore, challenges and barriers depend on which community one chooses. What a freedom, that women, once bound to a single living space, now have choice of entire communities far beyond their borders! Our communities, at least here in the States, have evolved from physical visitations over a cup of tea to wireless chats over a cappuccino. It has brought both isolation and communion.

Un-authenticness is one of many challenges within this physical community of Southern California, U.S. Forgive my taking liberty and tweaking the question to be “how is using online community a challenge in itself?”. First we must dispel the myth that technology is causal to community, because it also provides a wall. So we choose to reach or withdraw.

I am fortunate to have a community of communities! However, there is a sickness here, dare I name it a Fear of Authenticity. Women are afraid to reveal anything that could be insinuated as a flaw, weakness, inadequacy. And there are so many things that are deemed so, it is near impossible to be seen as whole. If you are flawed, have a weakness, or whatever name you choose to put to that thing, then you are invalidated. Red-lettered.2 Let’s not put that person in leadership in communities, in churches, in schools. Let us turn away and keep to our clique, which in itself is misconstrued by many as community.

So, a challenge with my physical community here in Southern California, US, is that of authenticity. That of having the courage to both show yourself in all it’s distorted beauty, and courage to embrace those who are reddened. With the wonderful world wide web communities, we are able to remain unseen. Words on a page become our features.

But, things have a way of coming back around. The solution to this barrier is right before our eyes. Literally. Look into that circle above your computer screen and say “cheese”. With the entrance of visual media we can literally see each other (ie: Skype, Facebook). Words fade to faces. Real life happening behind mothers recording their video blogs. These are brave women! Pay no attention to the screaming child in the background, or the fact that it’s past noon and I’m still in my sleepwear.

Ok, now that we have identified and conquered the temptation to hide behind technology, let us use that same technology to come out of our holes and truly see and be seen. Only then can we move in the direction of true change.

1.Fred Rogers, “Mister Roger’s Neighborhood”
2.Reference to a book, whose heroine is burned at the stake for stumbling, forced to wear a red letter on her clothing so all would know her (perceived) fault.

Comments

makanaka's picture

see and be seen

Hi cali
Wow I really enjoyed your post and you have made a good point that thise women who blog with kids crying in the back ground are indeed brave. It is true that most of us(speaking for myself) want the world to see me at my best. The problem right there is there is so much hidden behind the makeup. We need to therefore ise technology to come out as we are no need to hide.
Keep writting
Praying for you
Much love
Makanaka

Makanaka

nasreenamina's picture

Good post

Indeed is not possible to connect people really if they first dont see each other honestly. This is a good beginning. Good luck!

One's life has value so long as one attributes value to the life of others, by means of love, friendship, indignation and compassion

Follow me @DivinaFeminista

Kenia's picture

SoCal Authenticity

"Women are afraid to reveal anything that could be insinuated as a flaw, weakness, inadequacy."

As a fellow SoCal resident, I hear you! This lack of authenticity is even more pronounced in some areas within the Southern California community than others.

"Let’s not put that person in leadership in communities, in churches, in schools." There seems to be much of that societal pressure on women to be "perfect." To be perfect mothers, perfect wives, have perfect bodies and perfect relationships, etc, etc. This, in turn, causes many people to be afraid to reach out to others in an authentic way. We are afraid to ask for help, and try to do everything ourselves, because to ask for help means admitting that we are not perfect, that we are not Super Women. And it's a real shame too, because we turn down support networks as a result...and then find ourselves wondering why life feels so hard (hint: because we think we can do it ALL ourselves!).

Our society needs to embrace the fact that we are not perfect...because hey, it's true!

Kenia Perez
CoFounder, www.MsJaneOfAllTrades.com

Linda M. Ando's picture

Imperfection is Perfection!

Bravo . . . Yes, Authenticity is powerful and perfection highly overrated! The pressures to be super woman or man has created so much stress. An act of compassion and taking time to communicate, listen and fully be present for each other is a precious gift indeed. It starts with each of us being authentic with who we are and with each other. Thank you for starting the movement in your community.

With Gratitude,

Linda M. Ando

Emily Garcia's picture

Hi Michelle, Thanks for your

Hi Michelle,

Thanks for your post! You've painted a picture here that I can certainly relate to as an American woman who also happens to have grown up in Southern California. Authenticity plays an important role in community development, and without it, personal connections won't reach the depths necessary for true, authentic exchange that can make social change possible.

Thanks again for sharing!

Best,

Emily

Emily Garcia
World Pulse Online Community Lead

Alicia_Marie's picture

Hi Michelle, I really enjoyed

Hi Michelle,

I really enjoyed reading your post. Have you ever seen the film Miss Representation? I definitely agree that social pressure to fit a patriarchal mode of what we should be instead of who we should be is one of the biggest problems facing our generation and the women in the United States. Men can lead and have a five o'clock shadow, but if we the slightest imperfection like frizzy hair, oh watch out. It's time we are appreciated for what we have to say, not how we look or act (according to someone else's imposed standards) while we say it. I'm not so familiar with SoCal, but good luck with all your work!!

Alicia

Cali gal Michelle's picture

I am humbled...

I am humbled by your comments, and my mind continues to be challenged by your ideas. Thank you for your input and interest as we learn what true community is all about.

Let us Hope together-
Michelle
aka: Cali gal

Listener
Sister-Mentor
@CaliGalMichelle
facebook.com/caligalmichelle

Y's picture

We must also be careful with

We must also be careful with whom we are authentic. I learned this lesson from observing men.

Y

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