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.