The Lost Art of Personal Connection

With modern technology like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. it seems like there’s the lost art of asking how someone actually is. The Internet persona has overtaken reality when it comes to keeping up to date with our loved ones. Friends just hop onto someone’s Facebook posts to see what they’re up to instead of asking them how they’re doing. Why don’t people bother to ask “how are you?” anymore? Has that really become a lost art form of social manners? Technology has removed a lot of personal direct communication between people. The USPS complained when email started becoming popular because people were writing letters once and they wanted to somehow charge people for sending emails. At least an email could still be personal. A Facebook post? Hardly personal. It’s like a mass email all the time casting a big net and seeing whose attention and responses you catch in return.

Lately I haven’t done much since my Catalina swim in terms of exercise. There’s a false perception that I spend all my time swimming and cycling. Reality? Thanks for asking. I got my arm twisted into swimming during our club’s tri on Saturday which was the first time I’d swam in 10 days and the longest swim I’d done since my Catalina swim 6 weeks ago. I’ve been doing 1 or 2 “social swims” (with friends at the club that last less than an hour, nothing serious, and you can spend a lot of it talking) a week and that’s it. I’ve been in the saddle maybe once every other week if I’m lucky and not for a long ride either.

On Sunday I did the Princess Challenge bike ride up in Folsom. A 70-miler would have been no problem for me back in May. Given the lack of my time in the saddle though, this one was HARD. I seriously almost cried during the first third of it as I felt so out of shape and couldn’t keep up with my friends (one who I’m normally faster than). I’d never felt so lonely on the bike. The climb I was on wasn’t that steep or challenging had I been in normal cycling shape. I wasn’t though and knew it. I wasn’t even in gym-3-times-a-week shape. IMO I had no business being out there. The 95+ F temperature didn’t help either. I was miserable. I texted my friend Diana to hang back with me and keep me company. She obliged and I think I must have thanked her for that half a dozen times afterwards and meant every single one of them. There weren’t many people on this ride so without her, I’d have been by myself for almost the entire thing. I was in a foreign mental and emotional place that wasn’t comfortable.

I had time to think about how many people tell me that based on my Facebook posts that that must be how my life really is all the time. Your online persona is whoever you want to make it out to be though. You pick and choose what you share and what your personality is like. That doesn’t mean that’s how you are in real life and definitely not all the time. I can’t stand it when people post every single little thing they’re doing all day every day. I post some positive highlights and what I don’t mind sharing with a lot of people at once. It’s not personal to me. I have a line in my brain on what I want to publicly share and what to keep private. In my mind, Facebook is public (despite my privacy settings). Similar to how there is a fine difference between “tasks completed” and “accomplishments” (mechanical vs achievement), Facebook posts shouldn’t be confused with how one’s life actually is going.

Best scenario I had once was when someone said that I looked like I couldn’t be doing better and was doing all this wonderful stuff and being active all the time and enjoying life to its fullest and must be so happy. My response? “I got dumped yesterday. How are you?”

In general I’m not going to post negative stuff or even mediocre stuff for the whole world to see. There are a lot of things that I like to keep private and don’t really enjoy airing dirty laundry or anything that I’m having to work through and struggle with. I never posted anything on Facebook about my sister’s divorce, my relationship breakups/falling outs, bad days, etc. I found out recently that a loved one’s leukemia has returned and it ripped a hole right through me. Posting it on social media never crossed my mind. Ask me though how I’m doing and I’ll tell you though. Otherwise posting the negative side of my life in a rather public forum seems whiny and/or begging for sympathy/attention. I’m no whiner, beggar or attention whore.

A cousin was very surprised when she found out that I was moving back to SF from Pasadena last year. She cited my Facebook posts of me smiling with my friends down in SoCal and whatnot taking that it meant that I was completely happy being down there. While I love my friends there…what she and all except for a very select few didn’t know was that I was crying myself to sleep almost every night as I was so homesick. Others weren’t surprised when I moved back given how often I was flying between SF and LA to the point where my friend Shawn swore I was cloned because no one could be in that many places at once. Since moving back home I’ve traveled a lot less aside from going to SoCal for my own swims and to help others with theirs.

Have I recovered from my Catalina swim? Physically yes over a month ago. I’ve just needed a break and it’s awesome to be able to not have to do anything in regards to training anymore. I couldn’t keep up with my actual training schedule at the time anyway as I was getting kind of burned out with it before the swim ever happened. I missed having a social life and not having to be somewhere all the freakin’ time. I missed my friends. I missed not feeling guilty if I skipped a swim/spin/gym workout. Training isn’t really a lot of fun. And I had decided back in February that I’d take next year off from anything that required training and was looking forward to it even back then.

I mentally kind of checked out after my Catalina swim despite having the Princess Challenge last weekend and the Levi’s Gran Fondo this Saturday. I really don’t know what I’m going to do about Levi’s. I’m in no shape to do the Gran + Willow Creek that I’d signed up for and was looking forward to earlier this year. It’s painful for me to admit that I’m in no shape to do it right now. Other things have happened though lately that have convinced me that I need to start taking care of myself again which is what I’ve decided is more important. I’m not physically, mentally, or emotionally prepared to go through that ride. My friends Liz and Arianna are up for doing a shorter one which there’s the Gran + Fort Ross + Willow Creek which is shorter and a lot less strenuous while giving the highlights of the Gran route still. I’m thankful that I have them for support during the ride and to stay with me for its duration.

Where would I go after that? Back to my schedule from last winter where I may swim and ride with friends but it’s not a serious every day occurrence. I’ll have those glorious mornings where I get to wake up, make my tea and breakfast, and watch Netflix or read the paper all morning. I’ll get to see my non-swimming/cycling friends again. I’ll get to do a favorite pastime of getting together with a friend to drink beer and bitch about..I mean discuss.. politics and other current events. My normal life is actually a lot more settled than people have come to know over the last several months. Some people only know me as this crazy swimmer/cyclist and don’t know any of the other sides of me as I’m a fairly complex person who has never fit into a mold (nor would I want to). I can actually start to relax now. I feel like I’ve been sheltered the last 6 months while the rest of life has passed me by and I don’t really like it. In a way, it kind of feels like a bit of a detox right now. I’ll have more time for everything else in my life, some that I haven’t gotten to do in several months or years now. You know, like normal people…who happen to swim in the Bay and ocean without a wetsuit and ride 50 – 60 miles at a time.

So do you know the real me? Or are you just guessing based on perceptions from Facebook or elsewhere the last handful of months? How well do you really know me and what my life is like? Have you bothered asking and listening to the response?

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One Response to The Lost Art of Personal Connection

  1. timpmooney says:

    How are you? 🙂 Next time I’ll ask when you’re not in the middle of organizing a birthday swim. 🙂

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