& What I Learned about Connecting
Moving was not something we ever planned. It happened unintentionally in 2008 because the company my husband worked for dissolved. Ten years, and 2 cities later, I’m still pretty certain if given the choice, we would have stayed not only in Atlanta, where we had lived since 1998, but in the same neighborhood we moved into in 2004 when our son turned 1.
We moved again early in 2012, and I really wasn’t ready to move again. I was on autopilot, taking care of the moving tasks and logistics still fresh in my mind from the previous move. The logistics included researching and comparing different areas, schools and demographics online and exploring Facebook.
The demographics showed that the political views of the majority of residents in our new area were different than my own. I saw this before we moved and didn’t think much about it. I have lived and worked in 8 different cities in 6 different states throughout the eastern half of the US. The large majority of my friends and family have different views than me. It wasn’t a concern.
Views held by my neighbors and larger circle of friends have always been something I have been aware of, before Facebook and friending. Our views didn’t have to align in order for us to become good friends. When we took the time to get to know each other in person, we were also able to discuss issues, disagree and still enjoy each other’s company.
In the process of settling in to our new home while not working, I had a lot more free time. I volunteered in our son’s classroom, after school sports and our neighborhood. I was actively meeting neighbors and parents and making friends on Facebook in order to easily contact and also get to know them.
A lot of my time was spent on Facebook since I now spent a lot more time by myself. It connected me to friends who I missed from the last 2 cities we’d lived and to the people I was getting to know in my new place. It also put into perspective just how different our views were.
Having different views suddenly started to become an issue for me. It was 2012, the year of a presidential election. Scrolling through Facebook and ignoring what I was reading on my new friends and neighbors’ pages was impossible. As a result, I started to form opinions and judge people before getting to know them in person. And in turn, responded by posting my own views.
While I was in the process of going through my own relocation grief and loneliness, I was sorting through my new community with a feeling of not fitting in. It took time, a few years, and I discovered that the more I put myself out there and leaned in to get to know people in person, the more I experienced a leaning back. The large majority, thankfully, leaned back.
My use of Facebook made the move here a lot harder than it ever should have been. As I wrote earlier, I have been moving throughout my life, since I was 14 yrs. old. I have lived and worked in 8 different cities. The large majority of my friends and family have always held different views. It has never influenced who I became friends with and should not have been a problem here either.
It was my use of Facebook that knocked me sideways, not Facebook itself.
I could dwell on and blame the role that Facebook has played on the divisiveness in our country. But ultimately, the choice as to what and whom I let influence me and how I reacted and responded, especially on social media, was mine. I can also choose to embrace, interact and connect to my new community and place on fulfilling and joyful terms.
It’s been six years since we moved to NC and I am very grateful to be rooted and attached. We are also not planning on moving again, or at least not intentionally.