human connection… so rare and fleeting

human connection… so rare and fleeting

Posted on Nov 22nd, 2008 by Marmalade : Gaia Explorer Marmalade
There is something that has been on my mind for quite a while.  Being online has continually reminded me of it.  My first online community was a MBTI forum for INFPs.  As I’m an INFP, it was a very nice experience interacting with people who thought like me.  I met one person there who had a thinking pattern that was so extremely similar to mine which was so very odd. 

The main problem with that community was that it was fairly small and like many online communities the membership was somewhat transitory.  After several people I liked there stopped posting as much, I went looking elsewhere… but I still feel like I’m searching.  I joined a dozen or so communities before I finally came to Gaia.  I’ve connected with some here, but I don’t always feel like I fit in here. 

Connecting in a genuine way is such a difficult thing.  Meeting people is easy online, but really connecting is a whole other matter.  Part of it has to do with a desire to find people with a commonality of interests.  However, its much more fundamental than that as the INFP forum demonstrated.  Even though my interests were different than most of the people on that forum, there was such a commonality of life experience that it helped to bridge those differences.

I do feel more at home here than on most sites I’ve joined.  I do suspect that is because there are more people of similar personality types here.  A thread in the God Pod showed a preponderance of Introverts, Intuitives, and Feelers (MBTI terminology).  Nonetheless, even among stimilar types, the feeling of deep connection is rare and seemingly too little valued in our society.  I do know that its more valued amongst INFPs, but even on the INFP forum it was only a few people I really connected with.  I don’t know what that mysterious element is… its either there or it isn’t.  Even lesser connections can be nice, but that deeper connection is amazing when it happens.

I remember when I first experienced this kind of connection.  It was right after highschool.  I was working at a YMCA camp near Asheville, NC.  The summer was coming to an end and I was switching to another work area.  I met this girl and we connected in a way I’d never experienced before.  She was engaged and the connection didn’t feel romantic.  Its just that we resonated so easily.  I felt relaxed and happy around her.  This was amazing as I was quite depressed at the time.  However, I only got to know her for a short period of time (maybe a week or two) before we went our separate ways and we didn’t stay in contact.  Life is strange like that.  I’ve never felt that quick of a connection ever again.

Why are connections like this so unusual and so ephemeral?  Our longing for connection seems greater than the limits of mortal reality allows.  Maybe the longing for connection is more important than the connection itself.  In this, I’m influenced by the Sufi emphasis of longing itself.  God, if he is anything, is this longing.

Sometime later, maybe the following summer after the YMCA, I was working at the Grand Canyon feeling even more depressed and wishing to escape the world.  I met a real nice guy.  He was around 50 or so which put him at approximately the same age as my parents, but he seemed younger.  He was one of those old hippies who still was trying to live a life of freedom even as age was catching up with him.  He was from Arizona and in his after highschool years had fallen in love with nature.  He wanted nothing other than to hike and camp.  He had been down in the Grand Canyon many times before, but now he was like me working up on the rim making beds and cleaning bathrooms. 

I remember one time we went for a walk along the rim.  We were away from the village and we stopped at a quiet spot.  He was looking out at the Grand Canyon with such longing that I could feel it.  That longing is something that has become a part of me and he gave form to it during a particularly despairing time of my life.  He couldn’t take the longing unsatisfied any longer and he quit.  It was torture for him to be able to see the Grand Canyon without being able to go down into it, to explore it, to follow those endless canyons.

I can tell you that I was feeling disatisfied myself at this time and so very lonely.  I was tired of the way the world was.  Part of me also wanted to just disappear into nature, to escape all the tired expectations of family and society. 

After a while, I too decided to quit.  I knew someone who was also considering quitting and who had a car.  I convineced her to leave with me and go on a road trip since we both planned on heading back to our respective homes which were in the same general direction.  She had a friend that she had come to the Grand Canyon with and he wasn’t happy to see her go.  He told her that “people need people”.  It seemed like such a silly thing at the time, but its stuck with me after all these years.  Its true though… people do need people.

And, yet, people are always leaving.  No relationship lasts forever.

I’ve become very cynical as I’ve aged, but I must say I was already developing my cynical side as far as back as grade school.  Its just become more pronounced with life experience.

A few years ago, I decided to do everything I could to turn my life around.  I’ve always had this side of me that just wants to be a simple good person… a noble endeavor indeed.  So, I put myself out into the world and took risks, but it was a struggle even with antidepressants and therapists.  I met many people and it was moderately nice despite a part of me that is eternally dissatisfied with all of existence.

I even fell in love for the first time in my life.  I wanted to fall in love, but I think I could’ve made a better choice for the object of my love.  It wasn’t exactly mutual.  Thusly, I came to very intimate terms with my own frustrated longing.  Well, at least I know that my longing will always be there for me.

This blog is linked in three different threads.

OM posted it in the Collective Wisdom pod:

http://pods.gaia.com/collective_wisdom/discussions/view/369016

Meenkashi posted it in the Gaia Networking pod:

Blogs on Community, Interaction, Communication

I posted it in the God pod:

Community: blogs and threads

Access_public Access: Public 34 Comments Print Post this!views (371)  
Nicole : wakingdreamer
about 5 hours later

Nicole said

The internet is a real mixed blessing in terms of connections. It’s easier than ever before to meet people quickly with whom you resonate, but also easier than before to lose people.

Marmalade : Gaia Explorer
about 9 hours later

Marmalade said

Yep, Nicole. 

The internet, in its present condition, seems to be more of an experiment.  I suspect, as the internet becomes more immersed into everyday life, we will see less of this transitory style of relating.  It already is something like this for the youngsters these days.  They don’t as clearly distinguish their online and offine lives. 

The main thing that leads to the transitoriness is probably the anonymous factor.  Most people feel they don’t have to act as they normally do because the internet is mostly a separate world from their everyday life.  That is the other thing about the younger generations.  They seem less concerned about anonymity.

However, connecting is always challenging no matter what the situation.  Can’t blame it all on the internet.

starlight : StarLight Dancing
about 10 hours later

starlight said

hey ben…i think fear keeps us from connecting better than we do…sometimes it is a healthy fear i suppose…and when it is on the internet, it is difficult b/c you don’t have that face to face thing where you can actually look someone in the eye and see their expressions…but to be honest, i have difficulty connecting with others, many times b/c of the diversity of our beliefs and interests…but it is very nice when you actually do connect with someone and a friendship blossoms…

hope you are well…always, star…

Marmalade : Gaia Child
about 11 hours later

Marmalade said

I’m well enough.  I’m just in a space of assessing my reasons for spending time online as it relates to what the intenet actually is able to offer.  My experience is that dissatisfaction comes from having unrealistic expectations, but humans seem to thrive on unrealistic expectations.  Our whole civilization is built on unrealistic expectations.

I’m thinking that genuine connection beyond the transitory is too much to ask of the internet.  I have good relationships already in my life and so I’m not lacking in that department.  Really what I’m looking for online is commonality which may or may not include a deeper sense of connection.

I’m glad to see software being developed for social networking sites that makes it easier to connect with similar people.  Gaia’s resonance engine is designed for this purpose, but it hasn’t worked for me.  The people the resonance engine shows me tend to be those who are no longer active which is just depressing. 

Other sites have some cool functions for connecting.  I like what Netflix and Amazon are doing.  Netflix gives you the percentage of similar ratings to every other member and allows you to compare your individual ratings with those of others.  Amazon has something similar using your buying history and a tags system.  Both Netflix and Amazon also have very active online forums.

Its getting easier and easier to find people to connect with even if only on the level of common interests.  Helping people connect on a deeper level, however, is beyond the capacities of any internet site.

starlight : StarLight Dancing
about 11 hours later

starlight said

i was a member on a spiritual forum that began about six years or so ago…it was the bomb…some of the ones of us that were there in the beginning still stay in touch…many of us formed deep friendships…when the site shut down, there was another that started; it has not been as successful, nor is the atmosphere the same as in the early days of the first one, but there are some of the same people that still post, and so in that sense it still feels connected…so it is possible…i learned so much on that site and will always be indebted to the dear ones that i met during that time…it was an awesome experience…but i doubt that there will ever be anything likened to it again…who knows though…lol…*

Marmalade : Gaia Explorer
about 11 hours later

Marmalade said

Your spiritual forum sounds like my INFP forum.  I still visit the INFP forum, but I get the sense that it isn’t as active as it used to be.  The last time I visited, someone mentioned that the administrator had been MIA for quite a while and the lunatics had taken over the asylum.  Fortunately, the lunatics there are of the good-natured variety.  I just emailed a friend from that site.  She isn’t active there anymore, but we stay in contact.  I was telling her that I wish I could gather all the interesting people I’ve found around the net and put them in a single place.  My site would be called: Marmalade’s Cool Friends.  It would be the best site ever!  🙂

starlight : StarLight Dancing
about 12 hours later

starlight said

what would be the focus of such an endeavor?  lol…

that’s what happened to SDF…the guy that created it fell in love and stopped hanging out, and the lunatics took over…it came to a tragic end…for a while he still kept it intact as an archieve, it had some awesome info on it…but you can’t even go to it anymore…that reminds me, i still keep in touch with him and i have been meaning to ask him why the link no longer works…he had given me my own forum basically, within the forum, to post all my material…i posted so much on that forum it wasn’t funny…and i really would like to have access to it still, for that reason, and to read all the informative threads…a real wealth of info really…towards the end though it became like a big soap opera…drama, drama, drama…and of course i was right in the middle of it!  LOL…memories…haha…maybe i tell you about it sometime…it’s really pretty funny now, but it wasn’t then…always, star…

mikeS : Ha!
1 day later

mikeS said

there seems an underlying sadness in your essay. But then, there always seems to be an underlying, rather incoherent, undefinable sadness in all relationships, no matter how connected or close. Most tend to deny and distract from that low lying heaviness, but the weight of it pulls at us nonetheless.

It does seem that no matter how close we become, I can never fully share your experience of living, nor can you share mine, since words and physicality never quite close the distance. I have experienced this in my own marriage. reflecting truth in the old adage “so close, yet so far away.”

I also agree with starlight, that there does seem to be a fear in too much sharing of experience, in the recognition of the actual limits of that sharing and maybe that reflects the underlying sadness. In this sense we are all truly alone.

In recognizing the limits, I suppose we are resigned to share what we can and maybe this is why no relationship lasts forever since the sharing must always be limited. Even those relationships remaining in close proximity change, never to be what they once were and always resistant to fully become what they could be. I suppose this was why I turned to spirituality in the hope of finding an answer. Not yet, though.

It seems your commentary on your own experiences of relating, is really a commentary on all relationships. If we are all alone, maybe at least we can be together in that experience.

Thanks for the honesty, it was a pleasure to read…

mike S

1Vector3 : "Relentless Wisdom"
1 day later

1Vector3 said

Oh, Ben, again I am blown away, and anything I might respond seems trivial by comparison to your sharings. But then I always feel superficial when INFP’s start doing their thing…… But I do recognize the depth, and in fact I can go there, too.

I can remember times in my life when all I had was the yearnings, the longings, for relationships and for something ineffable in or about life, and I found comfort and identity in the yearning itself.

One time I had a really indepth conversation with a good friend comparing our deepest subjective experiences and we managed to convey each to the other in such a way that we were blown away by the differences. After that, it has seemed a miracle to me that anyone can entertain the illusion that they understand or empathize with or grok anyone else’s inner experiences. Under the veneer of language agreements, lurks vast oceans of uniquenesses. [This does not contradict what I say below. Under the vast oceans is Oneness. Shall I say, they are all WATER !!]

It’s really true in this culture people are intimacy-phobic and intimacy-impaired by their upbringings. I believe there are cultures where this is NOT so. I don’t see this as a human issue, but a cultural issue.

Of course, and permit me to go woo-woo now, it is true IMO as you alluded, no human connection can come even close to the experience, the knowing, the BEING of “One Being in many forms” which those folks not in the illusion of separation can abide in. That is ultimately what we long for. Nothing in the world of form can provide that. That is our longing to simply be in full awareness of our own Ground of Being. In that awareness, we are automatically one with every other form in that we all are pieces of the Ground of Being. But we have our differences, on another level.

There are human experiences of “merging” energetically with another person, both feeling the separate self disappear into something or someone much Larger which yet paradoxically contains the smaller self, and this is sometimes spontaneous and sometimes cultivated, as through Tantric practices. These are pretty awesome. But they are also not states that can stay in the foreground of our awareness as we do the grocery shopping.

I have had experiences like you mentioned with the girl you were so [my word] comfortable with. I don’t think we achieve those; I think they just happen, and the basic cause is probably too woo-woo to go into here. I do think such a relationship CAN last a lifetime. I think profundly deep good relationships CAN last a lifetime. That’s “forever,” to most people. There are many examples of couples who grew old together in the most loving and intimate connection on ALL levels of their being. Who could read one another’s thoughts, finish one another’s sentences, etc.

Some of that can be cultivated in a relationship, but some has to be there from the beginning.

I myself don’t think of the REALLY worthwhile “connections” as having much to do with common interests. More with common values. Even more with common senses of life. Communication via the  Internet can only begin to hint at such things about a person.

I believe that true intimacy or closeness requires of both people the courage to be self-expressive, to be transparent, and to receive the other’s expressiveness and transparency in allowing, accepting ways, not judging. You have all that in spades. Thus, your chances of a truly deep relationship are better than average, IMO !!!

One way of conceptualizing or modelling connection or intimacy or whatever we are talking about is to use the physical model of RESONANCE. We resonate with other people, in various ways to various degrees. We are always hoping for more ways with more degrees from one person !! [The strength and areas of resonance possible in person are exponentially greater than via the Internet or writing or phone…..]

At one point in my life I gave up thinking I would find complete resonance for all aspects of my own vibrating/Being in one person. I will always feel “fragmented,” therefore. Never able to share ALL that I am in full resonance with any other ONE person. I have just accepted that. [As you said, expectations create disappointment, frustration….]

What, with age, I have no tolerance any longer for, is adapting. If i am going to be really close to someone, we have to be quite comfortable with one another just the way we are, from the beginning. The person has to fit me “like an old shoe” from the beginning. Exactly as you described how you felt around that girl.

You said
a part of me that is eternally dissatisfied with all of existence

and I’d like to ramble a bit about that. I see that as the root of depression, probably for you, perhaps for everyone. And that dissatisfaction with all of existence is something Buddhism describes very well and at great length, perhaps starlight can give some examples or references.
 
As long as we live within the illusion of separateness from the One Being in many forms, we will have that eternal dissatisfaction, nay, even a primordial terror which it hides from our full awareness, the terror of believing or experiencing separateness, because that separateness is not our normal, natural, true state of Being. It is an artificial and temporary creation – a project for a purpose – by some Beings, whom we are creations or parts of. But deep down we know there is “something wrong with this picture,” and the resulting sense of life is most unpleasant/dissatisfying/terror-filled/depressing.

Makes perfect sense to me that some folks like you are not willing or able to numb themselves to this “existential” condition of (common) human consciousness. Depression is inevitable. It is in fact sadness, IMO. Sadness is different from depression, because sadness is about something, it has an object or cause. In this case, IMO, the “cause” or “object” is the experience of being separate.

I have to add a caveat that to me separate and distinct are not identical. People can feel distinct and individual even after they awaken from the illusion of separateness.
 
One other way of being “eternally dissatisfied with all of existence” is to be a perfectionist. I am one of those, down to the atomic level of my embodiment. There is never a moment of perfect satisfaction with the way life is, I am, things are. That perfectionism is based on illusions, though, and in fact I am mostly healed from those. But I thought I would mention it, as it’s a different source of “eternal dissatisfaction with all of existence” from the separateness-sense I just described.  

Well, thanks for allowing me to blather on. I was able to put into words some things I had not been able to articulate before, so thanks for the opportunity. If my words are meaninful or even useful to anyone else, that would be very pleasing and satisfying to me !!!!

Blessings, OM Bastet

1Vector3 : "Relentless Wisdom"
1 day later

1Vector3 said

Gotta edit this for precision:

I said
even a primordial terror which it hides from our full awareness, the terror of believing or experiencing separateness,

I meant to say
even a primordial terror which it hides from our full awareness, the terror which is an inevitable consequence of believing or experiencing separateness
— not the terror OF believing, but the terror FROM believing

Say this is a dynamite thread about such a common human concern. OK with you if I donate it to the Collective Wisdom library??

Marmalade : Gaia Child
1 day later

Marmalade said

Yeah, Mike, there is an underlying sadness.  I’m sure my relationship experiences aren’t unique.  In the examples I gave, I was mostly focusing on a transitory stage of my life.  I’m much more settled now, but the feelings I felt then aren’t really different than what I feel now.  Even in less transitory relationships there is still a gap.

And I also agree with starlight about the fear thingy.  Thats become clear to me in recent years.  The desire and fear of intimacy go hand in hand.  I’ve observed it in myself and in others.  I sense some kind of truth in the longing to connect, but I can’t say that I know what it is.

Marmalade : Gaia Child
1 day later

Marmalade said

Om, I’m sure nothing you share will be trivial.  I completely agree with what you say about lurking vast oceans of uniqueness.  I tend to think of it as a fundamental truth, but there is a cultural component.  Its hard for me to imagine what a society would be like that didn’t have intimacy issues.  Sounds like a nice place.  I’d like to visit there sometime.

I like using the word resonance.  The fragmentation you mention is something that I feel within myself whether or not a relationship is involved.  That is something I didn’t mention in the blog but which I’ve thought about recently.  The disconnection between people is akin to the disconnection between aspects of the self.  I don’t know if that makes sense.

Related to this is dissatisfaction.  Longing to connect corresponds to the dissatisfaction felt withn.  These are two sides to the same coin and I see it as spiritual.  Buddhism has it right about life being fundamentally dissatisfying.  Dukkha is often translated as suffering, but it makes more sense to think of it as dissatisfaction.

You’re description of this is perfect.  Calling it dissatisfaction is an understatement and maybe that is why dukkha gets translated as sufering.  Whatever it may be, its a profound experience.  Primordial terror… those words get at the sense of it.  I understand your interpreting it as being a result of the illusion of separation, but I’m not sure what that means.  Its disconcerting.  What is the feeling of separation?  And what caused it?  I’ve felt inklings of a deeper unity, but I don’t remember a time when I ever experienced it fully.  I do have the sense that something is wrong with this picture… which implies there is something that is right.

I’m pretty sure you’re correct that sadness isn’t the same as depression.  But Its hard for me to distinguish them in my own experience.  Depression is such a complex thing.  What is causing what I do not know.  What I do know is that my depression has always had a component of loneliness, of something missing.  Do I have a depressive personality that leads me to be open to that experience of dissatisfaction?  Or has the experience of dissatisfaction after enough years led to a depressive way of being?  Or something entirely different?  Its all confusing to me.  I could imagine being depressed without being sad or being sad without being depressed, but its all mixed up for me.

I guess that this is a decent thread.  You can donate all you want. 

Marmalade : Gaia Explorer
1 day later

Marmalade said

I have a previous blog which relates to some of the views being discussed here.

Zen Great Doubt, Existentialist Angst, and Gnostic Longing

starlight : StarLight Dancing
2 days later

starlight said

hey ben and all…that link had some very relevant context…something to really think about, and of course i did…and here is what i awoke with today…maybe it will be helpful, maybe not…

that longing we feel, is the longing to connect beyond surfaces…the dissatisfaction occurs when these connections do not materialize in the way that we had hoped…or when they do, but do not last…those emotions are processed and stored, and can really prevent us from making another effort at connecting beyond surfaces or beyond our safety zone…and can once again leave us with that melancholy longing to connect…but the fear of remembering can keep us at that precipice…and so we get comfortable in our limited condition…even when it has unpleasant aspects…simply put, we remain on the beach b/c we KNOW there are sharks in the water, we’ve been bit before, and so we don’t JUMP IN…or make the effort beyond a certain point…we sometimes even convince ourselves that we are just fine getting a tan on the sand…while we watch from the sidelines…others swimming, having fun, touching, laughing, living, breathing…loving…each other…

i have found that it is much like anything else…we connect every day…on surface levels…like the internet…it is really up to us to try to connect at a deeper level…sure there is always the risk that you will run into a brick wall…but it is like anything else…when you turn your computer on and it does not connect right away, do you give up and throw your laptop against the wall, or do you keep trying?  it always comes down to it being our own choice…

the most difficult thing for us to do it seems, is to do something different…but that is where the potential for creativity comes into play…and great works of art manifest…

in my experience, it has become very easy to remain in my own little bubble of bliss…even though, periodically, i feel the lonliness…

since i am not a buddhist, or a member of any other religious organization, and i rarely go any where, except online…i have learned to be content with discussing things of intellectual interest with those here at gaia that seem to think along the same lines as i do…and i write my poems…i am attracted to realistic and critical thinking…but i am not without my spiritual being…i just refuse to label it and put it in a box, and so, i am a loner of sorts…

but that is my choice…and until i decide to take a chance and venture out of my own little box…there is no way to make deeper connections…afterall…awareness is not going to slide them under my door…LOL…much like your link suggests…i have to dive into the abyss…feel to heal, and keep it real…diving in the abyss, or living ones life amongst the living…brings opportunities to face more conditioned behaviours…which brings opportunity of more awakening and freedom…

there is one thing i will say concerning suffering…it is much different then pain and sadness…we are humans…being…pain is to be felt…so is pleasure…getting trapped in those feelings is what brings suffering…

much of the time it comes down to this:

i have to just put my big girl britches on…and walk through the fear…

thnx for this thread Ben…your honesty on these subjects helps to open up and shine a light on those tendencies within us all…if we are willing to look at these things honestly within ourselves…then that reveals the potential to do something different…where a deeper connection is always possible…much joy, always, star…

starlight : StarLight Dancing
2 days later

starlight said

check this out ben…just a view from my box…LOL

http://tlcoriginals.gaia.com/blog/2008/11/connecting

thnx for all the inspiration on this thread…always, star…

Marmalade : Gaia Child
2 days later

Marmalade said

I read your comments here and I read what you wrote in your blog.  I’m too tired to give any detailed response, but I can say that I didn’t disagree with any of it.  Everything you said generally resonates with my own view.  I don’t think I can add anything further that would be insightful.  🙂

I do have some other thoughts that have been on my mind, but I don’t think they particularly relate to anything you mentioned.  Maybe I’ll try to write about them later.

Nicole : wakingdreamer
3 days later

Nicole said

Ah, those sun-filled days. That blog seems like such a long time ago on this cold winter’s day filled with snow. I have enjoyed our blog chats so very much, my friend Ben.

1Vector3 : "Relentless Wisdom"
3 days later

1Vector3 said

You asked some questions I need to respond to, but for tonight all I can manage is to post this link to the donation of this blog+comments to the Collective Wisdom library.

Blessings, OM

Albert  : Warrior
3 days later

Albert said

Ben, this is really a fascinating consideration.

Other types like in the Reiss profile could be added. Or whtaever.

Its always isnt so far away from so called real F2F world.
A new kind of vireality is emerging. German iInternwet Entrepreneur Paulus Need once described it this way. True intimacy is a process of crstyllization. Of deep values. Of timing in ones bio according to the life cycle one goes through….
And it may change through the years.

According to ones individuality. See for example the label “Integral” Is suggest some homogenity of people who use it. If we would choose randomly 1000 people from across the globe ..we would see 1000 different fingerprints of using it.

Then checking this cohort after 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 years again:

The picture will have changed radically.
To be honest, genuine and open, authentic and in connection with ones own purpose and authentic case..will ALWAY bring people in connection. Sometimes in unpredictable ways.
Bon voyage, Ben!

Marmalade : Gaia Explorer
3 days later

Marmalade said

OM – I hope this discussion lives up to being collective wisdom.

Albert – Surprised to see you here.  Did you see this thread from OM’s linking to it? 

Anyways, no need to “bon voyage” me quite yet.  I’m still here and I’m not rushing to leave.  I am looking around at other options.  One thing I’d like is to have a blog that gave me more control of the format.  Some networks give you the ability to create categories for different subjects or for differing levels of security.  Even if I did blog elsewhere, I’d still come back here to visit.  I won’t abandon ship entirely.

I hadn’t heard of Reiss profiles.  That is a new one to me.  Thanks for telling me about it.  I did a quick search and it looks interesting.  Would you mind telling me more about it?  What is your interest in it?

I dig what you’re saying.  Its a different perspective than what I was focusing on, but is equally relevant.  I particularly like what you say about “connection with ones own purpose and authentic case”.  Yep!  I like authenticity in myself and in others.  For sure, life is unpredictable… like it or not.

1Vector3 : "Relentless Wisdom"
3 days later

1Vector3 said

What the heck is “vireality?”Sounds  ominous or interesting.

Ben you young whippersnapper, are you questioning my judgment????? This thread is already collective wisdom or I would not have put it into the library. So it doesn’t have to “live up to” worthiness on your HOPE !!!!  (stands with arms akimbo, glaring and with fondly smiling glint in eyes and playing around mouth.)
 
Know what you mean about formatting options on blogs. I’m getting into creating my church’s blog on blogspot, and I do appreciate the incredible creativity possible there. For example, a palette of colors for each of over a dozen elements of each blog! Even slideshows, just select the gizmo and put in the pictures !!!! Of course, it’s all a matter of funding here, our devs are working as hard as they can.

I’m very happy to NOT be appropriately wishing you Bon Voyage. Just Bonne Nuit, zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

OM

Albert  : Warrior
3 days later

Albert said

Ben..lol..I just randomly picked up the thread.

Bon voyage simply means for me pursuing ones own odyssee. No matter where and in what realms. Every single day is a voyage in itself…

We need new maps for communication and connections of all kind. This hyperspace has so many dimensions. And I have given up the search for a TOE in communication. I love the unfolding mystery and simple experience of it..

A business partner once offered me to make a Reiss Profile. It reveals interesting points. However as I know dozens of typologies…they are not really triggering me. I am interested to see how reality is manifesting itself. And how deeply people are aligned to their authentic self.

If necessary even in a crazy and non consensual way. Spiritual, poltical and sexual correctness is bad and limiting syndrom for me. Maybe necessary for some mainstream consensus.

Your post is relevant as it opens even the door to questions about communication and comunion. As KW does in some writings. So it should not surprise you to see me here. …)

Albert  : Warrior
3 days later

Albert said

OM,

vireality is the Moebius stripe like interconnectness of virtual and real worlds. Emerging and evolving not as alternate realties but  as DNA like Double Helix.

Kevin Kelly has lots of it explored though not naming it this way.

The quote of Paulus Neef can be found in the inspiring book of German writer Bernhard von Mutius:

Die Verwandlung der Welt

www.dieverwandlungderwelt.de

Do not know if it is translated into English already.

Marmalade : Gaia Explorer
3 days later

Marmalade said

Partly because of my mood recently, I’ve been visiting some of the other groups I belong to.  The first groups I belonged to were typology and they’re still some of my favorites.  I know quite a few people from the very first community I belonged to and one of my favorite people happens to be visiting there right now.  Typology forums create an interesting environment where many people end up being very open about their personal lives.  It can make it easy to get to know people very quickly.

One of the people I know from the INFP forum is now mostly a pen pal meaning we mostly only communicate via e-mail.  She actually visited here once and even posted briefly on the God Pod, but she is too busy to spend much time online.  I was talking to her about how I was feeling about online communities.  Because she lacks the time, she understood how difficult it is.  She was saying how it takes a lot of effort to really connect to a community.  I know that trying to belong to multiple communities to satisfy all sides of myself takes way too much effort.

All of this made me think about two general categories of communities.  There are very focused groups that limit themselves to a single subject or to a single type of person.  And there are more general groups that emphasize the social networking aspect.  I suppose Gaia sorta falls somewhere in between, but probably a bit more on the focused side in that the original purpose of Zaadz was very focused and this influences the type of person that joins.  I guess most communities are focused in one way or another.

I prefer focused groups overall in that its easier to find people of a common interest.  But it leads you to interact through that one dimension.  On a typology forum, everything can turn into a typology discussion.  Gaia is more diverse, but even here not all sides of myself get satisfied.  Then again, no group probably exists where all sides of myself would be satisfied.

However, there are more general networking sites that contain focused groups.  Gaia somewhat achieves this with its pods, but its active pods represent a fairly narrow focus.  Bigger sites like Live Journal or Ning are the best examples of general groups.  On these networks, you can potentially meet anyone who has joined, but you can get as focused as you want by deciding which groups to joiin.  Ning, for instance, has groups for almost anything.  Ning has some small groups and it has some very large groups.  The groups I belong to at Ning include two integral groups, a philosophy group, and Netflix’s official forum.

However, I don’t know how well Ning does in encouraging people to connect across groups.  Gaia does this fairly well, and there are some other companies that specialize in this.  I believe that SocialGO and Multiply are networking sites that help individuals to more easily connect beyond mere group participation.

 Meenakshi : ~
3 days later

Meenakshi said

Ben, I came here through the collective wisdom pod.

Your blog is wonderful for me,as you can explore and share your feelings so clearly. This is one aspect of my life that grew later for me. In fact, it is still not grown, as I find maybe one person I can really open about feelings. Like starlight, at heart I am a loner. Or perhaps a lONEr. Interesting how that is, eh? One surrounded by left and right?

A large part of it, is because when we feel, we come fully into one experience. I have to be fully Meenakshi and only me; as you have to be fully you; and we are then separate and different.

When this happens, and we feel separate, others rush in [in a manner of speaking], and fill in the picture. Nicole comes with her warmth, Albert with ideas, and so on… As I read each comment, some resonate, some don’t, but seem like distant parts of a universe to which I belong. They show me paths to explore further when I am in a bon voyage mood–in the way that Albert describes it. So for me, community fills in the aspects of the wholeness that I leave to come into my feelings. When I look around me from the ground, I see all the people that I am or can be or won’t ever be or was; and I know that all this is that wholeness that OM has described so beautifully that it completely resonates. Because she wrote what she did, I don’t need to do that, and that helps me to go into another aspect.

So within the world experience, I know that somewhere there is deep loneliness, and I know that elsewhere there is deep communion.I use my inner guidance to “connect~don’t attach” to these experiences, feeling each as seems called upon.

 In loneliness, I connect to others who are lonely; which changes the energy to communion at a higher level. In communion, I hear the voices of loneliness, and can connect to that in healing. So as these feelings help with the flow of energy, all those philosophies make sense, each feeling seems relevant and having no-one to fully relate to; is exactly what helps me to relate to ONE.

Bowing deeply to you all, for this connection.

Marmalade : Gaia Explorer
3 days later

Marmalade said

I skipped over Nicole’s comment.  I’m getting too many commentors (with some long comments) to keep up with them all.  Yes, Nicole, that blog does feel like it was a while back.  It resonates quite well with tis one, but it didn’t get as many comments as this one.  I just realized that some of my most popular blogs are those where I complain about community and relationships.  I guess community is a favorite topic in this community.

Welcome to the discussion, Meenkashi!  At heart, I’m a loner too.  My best friend is also a loner and we often enjoy being alone together.  🙂  Oddly, I’m more social online.  :))

 Meenakshi : ~
4 days later

Meenakshi said

I guess community is a favorite topic in this community.–good 1!

HeyOK : Bridgebuilder
4 days later

HeyOK said

Hello there Ben-
You say, “I guess community is a favorite topic in this community.”  That sums it up so nicely.

Wanting to connect and using the means available to do so, wondering what the connections mean and lead too.

I’m thankful for the points you’ve made and the sharing it’s brought.  Thank you for that!

Blessings, David

Marmalade : Gaia Explorer
4 days later

Marmalade said

Hey HeyOK!  lol  I couldn’t help myself.

I’m glad people have enjoyed this blog and the discussion.  For me, this is something that is often on my mind.  I seem to be always thinking about relationships both on the small and large scale.

Marmalade : Gaia Explorer
4 days later

Marmalade said

I’m a fan of really long threads and so I’m going to add some more slightly related comments even though I’m sure I could start another blog at this point.

I’ve been perusing reviews and comparisons of the many social networking and related sites.  Its partly out of curiosity, but it definitely goes beyond that.  This all relates back to the subject of this discussion.  I originally picked Gaia to blog because of its community aspect.  Blogger and WordPress have better blogging capabilities, but they’re not community oriented.

My recent research about blogging sites has been more thorough because I widened my focus.  The first time I was looking for a place to blog, I only compared the few most popular sites.  The one that competed with Gaia in my attentions was Live Journal.  Some of the people I know from the typology world are on Live Journal and I do have an account there.  Gaia edged out Live Journal on one account.  The people here are maybe overall older and along with this maybe with more serious discussion such as with the Integral sector of this community.

Many of the more socially oriented sites cater to those of the younger generation.  I haven’t seen statistics, but I’ve heard people say this in reviews and it resonates with my own sense of such communities.  Similar to Live Journal is a blogging site called Xanga.  I’ve heard some people say that Live Journal isn’t really a blogging site, but I don’t know what they mean by that.  Maybe they mean in the way you can just keep your writings private.  Anyways, Live Journal is mostly like a social blogging site which is what Xanga is.

Okay… so, why am I bringing all of this up?  The thing is that I like to write, but I also like to have responses with some depth to them which can only come from getting to know others.  Its a balance in that I’m writing for my own purposes, but have come to enjoy the interactive aspects of being on a forum.  Social blogging seems like a happy medium.

However, everything is a tradeoff.  The blogging sites that are less social have the best blogging capabilities.  A place like Gaia has its advantages, but in many ways is a smaller community with a more limited focus.  The social blogging sites are very attractive in that they strike a balance between a large network and small groups, between blogging and social interaction, but they attract a younger less mature crowd.

Xanga stood out to me as having some potential.  It sounds like it emphasizes the social side of blogging more than any other site out there.  The concept of it is very innovative, but supposedly its filled with adolescent girls who write about adolescent girl types of things and without all that fancy punctuation and stuff.  But some people like it and if your friends are already on it, then the masses of youngsters wouldn’t be too bothersome.  Like anywhere, you certainly could find some very good bloggers there… and you’d just have to ignore the rest.  Then again, what good is the ability to socially connect easily if you don’t feel similar to most of the other bloggers?  The cool thing is that you can personalize your blog and connect your blog to blog rings of people of similar interests.  So, blogs can become more interactive.

If I was only interested in my own writing, I’d almost certainly go with Blogger.  Its easy to use and has a lot of flexibility.  Gaia is nice in a social sense, but the people I know here are mostly people I’ve met here.  The advantage of Live Journal might be that I know many people there who are members of other forum sites that I enjoy.  Ning is another one that interests me because I know some people there and already belong to several groups on it… besides, its the best network that does what it does which is a lot, but I’m unsure if its a place where bloggers connect with eachother much. 

I do have to choose, but choices don’t need to be absolutely exclusive.  I could blog at Blogger for purposes of giving me greater flexibility with my writing, but I still need to explore because Ning and SocialGO may give even greater flexibility as blogging can be integrated into a multiple page site that can also be a group network.  Whatever is the case, where I blog doesn’t have to be where I socialize.  I can connect my blog to the sites where I socialize.  For instance, I have my Gaia blog linked in the tag line of my posts at several of the forums I visit.

My writing is my main interest even before the enjoyment of being a part of a nice community of interesting people.  Most simply, I just want to write and community can even be a distraction from that.  And yet I’m drawn to connect maybe even because its a distraction from being too lost in my own thoughts.  Balance is key… I guess.

Ain’t life funny?  Oh, the dilemmas!  It probably doesn’t matter too much.  Maybe I just like endlessly considering my options to no end at all.  lol

Marmalade : Gaia Explorer
4 days later

Marmalade said

I just had one other thought.  I promise… its the last… for tonight that is.

A big thing for me about a site is the feeling of it.  This can have a lot to do with how the site is set up, but its more about the social aspects itself.  What is the purpose of the site, the purpose of the person(s) who started it?  What are the rules and how do the moderators keep order?  What kind of person does it attract, how do they interact, and what do they discuss?  What is the culture that has developed?  Is it stable and are the people committed to it?  Does it have cliques or is it friendly?

My assessment of Gaia is that its one of the most open and welcoming of communities I’ve belonged to online.  Its very laid back.  The only site that compares is the INFP forum.  Both of the sites have people who are very self-moderating which translates as that they attract people who value as much how they relate as they do what they discuss. 

That magical element of self-moderation is extremely rare.  Even many ‘spiritual’ forums I’ve been on lack this.  I know from experience that less laid back forums can just be tiring even in the most basic of interactions.

The challenge in exploring new sites is that you often can’t know the feeling of it until you immerse yourself in the community for some length of time.  Looking at reviews and comparisons can only point me in the directions of possibilities, but I still have to directly explore those possibilities.  I’m just going to have to play around and feel it out.

1Vector3 : "Relentless Wisdom"
5 days later

1Vector3 said

I have only a moment to spare this morning, Ben, but a couple of responses: I have often wondered about the other social networking sites others find valuable or interesting, but I feel SOOOO monogamous with Gaia Community I haven’t gone exploring. I really appreciate your doing the legwork and reporting back your perceptions !!!!! :))

Endlessly exploring possibilities…. Hmmm….. I vaguely recall that might be an Intuitive thingy?  :))))) Or you might be a Gemini. We do that too. I feel claustrophobic without options – even though as I just gave an example of, I can sometimes settle on one and be quite loyal……. Most of the time I just love exploring possibilities, but then I end up ranking them for usefulness for some purpose, and seeking to apply or implement. That’s why I am Sensation and not Intuitive…..

On Thanksgiving Day, I include you amongst my blessings.

OM

Marmalade : Gaia Child
5 days later

Marmalade said

Yep, OM.  I understand the monogamous attitude.  I felt entirely at home with the INFP forum which was the first I joined.  I thought of it as my online home, but it had obvious limitations for my interests.  Unlike Gaia, it was smaller and less active, and with a less stable community.  Using your metaphor, my monogamous partner wasn’t always in the mood and so I went looking for others to satisfy my needs.  I learned polygamy has its advantages.  lol

You are correct, though, that endlessly exploring possibilities is more of an Intuitive thingy… in particular, an Extraverted Intuitive thingy.  (Its a blessing and a curse.)  But nope I’m not a Gemini… Sagittarius in fact.  Sagittarius are of the travelling sort, so they say, which can either mean travelling in the physical sense or the intellectual sense depending on the whol Extraversion/Introversion thingy.  I cover immense territory… in my mind.  🙂

Blessings to you as well… and blessings to the turkeys on this day of their massacre.

Marm

Marmalade : Gaia Explorer
5 days later

Marmalade said

Along with OM adding this discussion to the Collective Wisdom pod, Meenkashi also added it to a new thread she just started in Gaia Networking.  This is explicit advertising for Meenkashi’s thread.  Go there and add any other blogs on community, interaction, communication.

Blogs on Community, Interaction, Communication

minor frustration

minor frustration

Posted on Jun 9th, 2008 by Marmalade : Gaia Child Marmalade
I’m feeling a bit frustrated with Gaia at the moment, but this is partly because I’ve been busy with family lately and haven’t had enough time.  I have various pods and blogs on email notification that it takes quite a while just to sort through all of that.  When I’m busy, that leaves me no time to blog.

Gaia is such a humungous community that I can feel overwhelmed.  I still feel like I’m barely beginning to get to know people.  Whereas, in some smaller online communities I’ve joined, the getting-to-know period was much shorter.

I came here to blog, but I also wanted to connect with other bloggers.  So far, I haven’t been successful in this.  I joined a bunch of pods and have posted quite a bit.  But I get the sense that most bloggers don’t post in pods much and most pod members don’t blog much.  I’ve gained a number of friends almost all of which invited me as a friend, but even so few of them ever comment in my blogs.  I go out of my way to comment in the blogs of others, but few of those people comment in my blog in return.  Many people who are the most active bloggers also seem to be the least active commentors in other people’s blogs.  And a few of the most active bloggers don’t even seem all that interested in responding to comments to their own blogs.

Basically, connecting is an issue.  Deborah mentioned that the blog comments between Nicole and I felt like a private conversation.  That surely isn’t my intention.  And it wouldn’t feel that way if more people responded.

However, I’ve come across bloggers who have been around since the beginning of Zaadz… and some of them get very few comments in their blogs.  It seems that there are a few bloggers that get lots of comments and a vast majority of bloggers that get few.  I guess its just like popularity in normal life.

Another aspect to my minor frustration is that I wonder if the reason for a small number of people commenting implies a lack of interest in the topics I blog about.  There are several reasons I can think of. 

First, I tend to blog about very intellectual topics.  And, yet, the intellectual crowd around here seems mostly limited to integral folks which I haven’t been drawn to blog (or post) much about. 

This bring me to the second reason.  I tend to write about very alternative viewpoints which by definition aren’t shared by the vast majority.  I wouldn’t be surprised that many of the books I read aren’t read by anyone else on Gaia… The Melancholy Android anyone?  

For the third… I’m not the most positive and activist person even in the normal world.  And certainly not on Gaia where positivity and activism is idealized above all else.

I’m not having a pity party.  Or if I am, it isn’t my purpose for blogging about this.  I want to connect with others in such a way that it causes them to be interested in connecting with me.  I want to blog, but not in isolation.  However, the more I try to reach out to connect to others, the less time I have to blog.  Should I simply do my own thing in my blog and just stop worrying about whether or not others care about what I blog about?

Part of me wonders if I fit in with the Gaia community.  As I’ve said elsewhere, I do resonate with the community here, but the question is whether the community resonates with me.  Whatever the case, I doubt I’d find another blogging community that I’d feel more comfortable with or in which it would be easier to connect with others.  I do like the sense that Gaia feels like a genuine community and a very active one at that.

More importantly, I’m just frustrated because my time is limited.  I always have to choose how to spend my time especially as I can be very thorough in my writings.  Should I spend more time blogging and less time posting in pods?  Should I take all of those pods off of email notification?  Should I limit myself to only one pod?  Should I stop trying so hard to connect with others and simply trust that the like-minded will find my blog on their own?

I like Gaia and don’t plan going anywhere.  I’m just trying to figure out how to improve my experience here… and how to decrease my frustration.

Access_public Access: Public 37 Comments Print Post this!views (520)  

about 10 hours later

Enlightened.thinker said

Hey Marmalade….I have had frustrations like you are experiencing and understand completely…

When I first came here I spent hours commenting on blogs of others, and I still try to comment when I can…as to integral topics, well I am not that astute on those topics and frankly do not like Wilbur stuff. That being said, I do love intellectual topics and stimulation here.

I also do not like PODS. I have been crucified in them and what I love to do, like you id blog..so I spend my time doing that. i blog first for myself…and if others resonate I feel blessed…I do agree may people blog and no one comments, I think I used to spend 8 hours a day commenting…and of course try to comment back on mine too…it gets to be a rather daunting task!

I ridded myself of most POD groups and have kept 4. I check them about once every month or so…too busy otherwise. Then each day I hit the blog friends and read as much as I can. Mind you  teach online lit and they blog and I comment on their posts and also will be taking a masters class online, so my time here may become more limited…but this place has been a source of inspiration and love, so I do not want to lose it..

I also try to email people here every once in awhile, or at least post grapevine stuff…but first and foremost I like to blog…and try to make time each day at least to answer the QAR.

I also disabled all the notifications for people who are friends that blog. I check the friends blog selection anyway, so why get double notice?

I have 355 friends here now… and this is no brag or anything…and it is not because I need to be popular…I turn no one away who wants to be a friend, and many of them do not blog but read silently…many read and do not comment…there is a sense of being “naked in public” but why take them off if they wsh to stay? If there are people who blog I try to write something and most of the time, writing it comes ith great pleasure…as this comment does…it strikes a chord.I also find new and fascinating people all the time, like yourself and love to follow progress!

People everywhere are funny and come with differing expectations of what they want and need…and I have taken some hiatuses from this place for various reasons…I hate to see people leave that I have found here, but we all have our own reasons for moving on…and i hope not to, but cannot promise anything in this world! LOL

Limited time is problematic…but do what you love first, just for yourself…blog that thought or idea. I realize it is frustrating to feel no one is listening…but remember this is your journey and all you do and say and feel is a wonderful legacy to your journey…

I’ll be checking in with ya…and I am glad you wrote this…it is important to voice how one feels always in honesty and release! And you are a great writer!

Blessings,
Aley

Nicole : wakingdreamer

about 10 hours later

Nicole said

Ben, there is so much here to respond to that I will just have to take it one point at a time

1) Frustration with Gaia due to real life interfering with Gaia – not being flippant, because many of us who are most active on Gaia experience this. Many is the time that I am just warming up with replying to a pod or commenting on a blog and work or some other important real life thing arises. Over time, I have learned to flow with it, to accept that later is soon enough to respond to that blog or that great post.

2) No time to blog – well, lately I haven’t blogged. Not exactly not having time, but my time being so dedicated to Alan and my friends on Gaia, and my business obligations, that blogging just doesn’t come up as something I do much. But again, for me, that’s ok, because I know for example there are days when I will have more time, like today, and more inspiration – my blog goal for today is to do one big future meet-up plan blog so I can get everyone talking about meet-ups I will be animating in one place.

3) Gaia being a humungous community – feel overwhelmed: I appreciate the fact that you still feel like you’re barely beginning to get to know people.  I have been here for coming on two years and people still say to me, do you know so and so? and i don’t. But that’s ok. What can work is finding the right sized network of active bloggers and staying connected with them. Also, our God Pod is a cozy community where scale is not yet a problem.

4) To blog, but also to connect with other bloggers – I think you  have been quite successful in this, given that as you rightly point out, most bloggers don’t post in pods much and most pod members don’t blog much.  Most people do not consciously and consistently comment on blogs, so that the few of us who do tend to stand out and be well known in the community as frequent commenters. You are certainly one who goes out of your way to comment in the blogs of others, but yes, at first, few of those people will comment in my blog in return.  There has to be a mutual connection, but we’ll talk about that more in a bit.

5) Many people who are the most active bloggers also seem to be the least active commentors in other people’s blogs, and some of the most active bloggers don’t even seem all that interested in responding to comments to their own blogs – this is true. Many of those who do respond to comments regularly do so quickly and lightly (like me) and all of this has to do with time constraints and priorities.

6) Connecting is an issue – blog comments between us felt like a private conversation – I know it wasn’t your intention, but there are several aspects that make it so. First, we post very long and detailed comments to each other, so most people would feel they didn’t have the time even to read all that, and maybe they would feel that if they did comment, they would have to be as detailed and they couldnt. Also, though, the more we get to know each other, and the closer we get as friends, the more personal the blog comments get and the more personal, the more it looks like an exclusive conversation. So I think it was a good point Debye made.

7) Bloggers who have been around since the beginning of Zaadz… and some of them get very few comments in their blogs. – a few bloggers that get lots of comments and a vast majority of bloggers that get few – popularity: I find the people who get the most comments tend to do so usually for one of three reasons – they post something very provocative, maybe even suggestive, and people start going to town commenting; they have a “blog party” of some sort and invite a crazy amount of comments; and – i think this is the biggie – they invest deeply in people’s lives through steady, daily grapevining, blog commenting, pod participation, PMing and off Gaia activity, so when they blog, their friends are deeply drawn to respond. John and Shirl and BB and Peridot are good examples of two or three of the above, depending on the person and of course those who are three out of three are going to hit the jackpot for getting comments.

The truth is, to reap big on Gaia, you have to sow very heavily. You can invest an insane amount of time writing detailed comments and blogs and pod posts, but if people are not feeling connected with you enough for whatever reason, you can get very frustrated because that massive investment is reaping little in the way of dividends for you.

8) lack of interest in the topics blog about – very intellectual topics and intellectual crowd around here seems mostly limited to integral folks –  very alternative viewpoints, unusual  books –  not the most positive and activist person even in the normal world.  And certainly not on Gaia where positivity and activism is idealized above all else:

I think you’re being very insightful here. It’s true that people blog and comment about things that tweak their interest. I have gotten into many a discussion with you where initially there was only one aspect that drew me in, but as we discussed, I realised that there was a hidden gold mine in your blog and got more and more into it. But what drew me in most initially was our friendship. As you have mentioned, you have blogged about things just because I am interested in them, and that has really been a powerful draw for me for two reasons – because I am so interested, but also deeply touched that you would go to that kind of time and trouble for our friendship and better understanding something or someone I care about that much.

Yes, your blogs are very intellectual and non integral, and I’ve noticed too that such blogs are marginalised for all the reasons mentioned in the above points. Similarly the very alternative viewpoint and minority tastes in literature do make it less likely that you will find enough people to connect on a regular basis, all above things being equal. And not being the most positive and activist person – again addressed above in terms of heavy heavy sowing and reaping.

9) not having a pity party, want to blog, but not in isolation, but the more reach out to connect to others, the less time to blog. Fitting in with the Gaia community.  Whether the community resonates with  you, time is limited. how to choose?

This is the crux of the matter. Again and again I see people reach a level of frustration for usually a number of the reasons you mention, and others you haven’t like negative interactions, being unfriended, feeling stalked, etc etc, and just blowing and disappearing.

Very few, like Mary recently, and like you here, really take the time and energy consciously to work through why they are frustrated and how they can be happier. Each one who does, though, usually reaches a place of happiness. In some cases it means leaving Gaia, but mostly it’s just adjusting to a more comfortable way of Gaiaing. As you say, you can choose to limit to one pod, or mostly to one pod. Comment deeply but on less blogs. Blog as much as you need without giving energy to whether or not people comment, because we cannot guarantee outcome.

I feel confident that you will find your way, because you are such a clear and deep thinker with heart.

debyemm : Tree Hugging Dirt Worshiper

about 12 hours later

debyemm said

Ben & Nicole,

Well, I didn’t mean it as a criticism.  I just felt like I was at a party, where 2 people are having an interesting conversation that I happen to overhear.  What to do?  I’d love to join the conversation but the 2 are so “involved” in communicating with one another, it feels on my outside position like an intrusion.

I feel sad to have caused frustration but that wasn’t my intent and Ben wrote me the kindest note that made me feel very welcome.  I am also glad that Nicole understood that my willingness to express “feelings” brought to light a perception that others reading may have had but weren’t willing to step in a little closer and say, hey, I’d love to enter the conversation, though I’ll admit I’m a bit lost as to exactly what you are talking about – it does sound so interesting, I do want to learn something from you.

Deborah

Waving wildly at my friend Aley who never seems to lack for comments on her blog …

 Meenakshi : ~

about 12 hours later

Meenakshi said

Ben, this is the kind of thing many feel on blogs or pods both on and off-line: why are people not responding to me? 
I’m sure most bloggers feel this way; but I’ve realized through the years of having off-line and on-line groups; that only a small minority of people who read, will actually write. There are all sorts of reasons; but in the end, it really boils down to one thing:
you came to blog which can be enjoyable in and of itself; then, having come here, you realized you enjoy networking.

Now would you mind if it is done more in pods than in blogs?  You could link your blog to a pod —and if you aren’t pod-ded out already, I would invite you to do this in the Gaia Networking – Enhance Your Community Experience; on
 Networking on Blogs board. Otherwise, can I provide a link?

In that synchronistic way of events; I was going to start a discussion on this topic; and it would be great to see how to handle this. That still does not mean we will get more comments, but who knows! We could provide tips for each other.

I’m going to read Nicole’s and Aley’s comments now.

**Preachy tone alert**: The best thing I’ve learned about disappointment, is that I need to change my thought. Or sometimes, to let the thoughts flow and not hold on too much to any one. I have found disappointment to take so much energy; that I can find more time if I just let it go.

And then I find that I am probably not acknowledging each of my friends who have commented on my blog. Why should it be numbers? As a qualitiative reasearcher, I know how even a small sample can be representative of a larger one.

As a professor [yes, Aley, me too, but many years ago]; I was given a piece of advice by the college  Principal–“If you can touch the life of even one student, think yourself successful.” To which I will now add: “you may never know whose life you have touched. So, listen in that silence and let each voice count.”

I think you have reached out and done many positive things; and surrounded as you are, by dear friends here, I am certain…as I can see above my comment that Nicole is, that you will get over this minor frustration as a pebble in your path.

After all, you have spoken for many.

Nicole : wakingdreamer

about 13 hours later

Nicole said

again, Ben, forgive me, but I would like to respond to Deb and Meenakshi.

Deb, no, I didn’t experience it as a criticism at all, I just wanted to continue to clear up the fact that we are open to people joining the discussion.But I totally know that party feeling and understand especially if we are getting into deep waters and sort of an in way of talking (as close friends tend to do) that it would make it harder to jump in. Thanks so much for articulating all that.

Meenakshi, I was telling Ben that I feel that this would be a good blog to link to for the Mod Pod and the Ambassadors, and he is happy for me to link to those. I believe this is a key Gaia issue, as so many experience these feelings.

 

Marmalade : Gaia Child

about 14 hours later

Marmalade said

I titled this blog post ‘minor frustration’ and I did so intentionally with the lower caps.  I was just expressing how I was feeling and it isn’t meant as a criticism towards anyone.  Everyone has different reasons for being here and everyone chooses different ways to spend their limited time.

To be honest, Gaia (and the people here) has gone beyond my expectations of it.  I’ve never come across a community as active as this one.  My frustration isn’t anything unusual because I often feel frustrated early on when joining an online group, and this feeling was magnified by how large Gaia is.  Frustration is an emotion which is valid in and of itself no matter what reasons or rationalizations I give for it.  My expression of emotion is more important than the words I used to express it.

My frustration isn’t specifically about Gaia.  I’m just trying to get my bearings in a new environment.  I’m at a point where I realize how limited my time is.  Also, I’m figuring out the social dynamics of the place overall and the social dynamics of various groups.

I wasn’t really expecting that many people would respond to this blog.  My feelings are serious in that my criticisms aren’t exaggerations, but I wasn’t attempting to start a serious discussion.  I would’ve put more thought into it before posting if I knew it would be interesting to others.  I mostly just thought ot  it as self-expression.

I was a bit worried that someone might respond critically towards my criticisms.  I’m certainly not in a mood to try to defend my position because I don’t have much of anything that needs defending.  I’m actually pretty darn happy with Gaia.  My venting of my frustrations came off strongly because I was feeling frustrated in general… I just spent 2 weeks non-stop with family and little time for myself.

But I am glad a discussion has started.  And I appreciate all of your comments here.  I’ll probably comment more later.

ps Deborah, I wasn’t frustrated by your comments.  My frustration was just a general mood and you just happened to post at the same time I was feeling this way.

Samme : Prince of Rainbows<3

about 14 hours later

Samme said

These are what I do on how I maximize my productivity and enjoyment here at Gaia and I want to share this for those who will read or listen;

1.  I click on the Groups tab and then My Groups.  I only visit those pods that have a “new” attached at the end of the pod name.  I don’t click on the pod title but rather on the word “new” that little orange thing.  This will show the  newest post  to the oldest.  I only read what’s new and comment if I want to.  Of course I have to post new materials on my own pods that I cultivated.
2.  For reading the blogs of my friends, I place my cursor on the word “blog” and then underneath that click on the word “friends”.  This will show a page of all my friends’ recent blog going down the page.  I go down the line, read and if I want to comment, will do so. 
3.  I comment on a lot of people’s blogs when I can.  I also write on their grapevine and mind you, not copy and paste. 
4.  I “tag” my email on gaia so I can quickly go back to ones I need to go back to. 
5.  I joined all pods that came my way.  I even join pods that I stumbled upon. 
6.  I do not delete other people’s posts or mine as this might be seen by somebody in the future and it just might help them deal or cope with whatever they are going through. 
7.  I have no right to place judgment on anybody. 
8.  I always pick myself up and keep on going even though I am alone on my journey.  But maybe sometimes when I look back there will be somebody following.
9.  I smile cause that is the extra incentive.
10.  I always say thank you and hope that I don’t forget.
Thank you,
Samme

Marmalade : Gaia Child

about 15 hours later

Marmalade said

Nice list.  I always like when people numerically list their points very clearly and concisely.

Some of the things you mention are what I’m now figuring out.  I too want to “maximize my productivity and enjoyment”.

Thanks for your contribution,
Marmalade

debyemm : Tree Hugging Dirt Worshiper

about 16 hours later

debyemm said

Samme,

Thanks for the hint about finding friends blogs – wow – something really new I have just learned after a year and a half here.

Ben,

Glad I wasn’t your frustration.  I understand now the larger context.

Deborah

Alluvja :  Love In Action

about 17 hours later

Alluvja said

Hi Marmelade,

I see you around in conversations and always enjoy reading your comments.
When I first joined Gaia a copple of months ago I was so overwhelmed and wanted to respond to so many things that I found myself staying up all night for a while! Of course that doesn’t work for long.
There are many discussions I enjoy but I am simply making choices and just react once in a while for it takes too much of my time. I am not frustrated with Gaia but I do share some of the disappointment especially in the friends area. In general the friendship thing is great and I am happy to connect in this way with many people but there are some cases I just don’t know how to go about it.
I am trying to keep connected with friends, either by saying hello once in a while thru the grapevine or commenting in pods or blogs, or e-mail. Now because of timelimits I don’t feel it always has to be a lot of stuff,  but I want to indicate that I do think about them and am interested. What is disappointing to me is that some people who invited me to be their friend never even take the time to maintain some kind of contact or even comment on a response or letter etc. That’s ok for a while to me for I also feel it should not be an obligation, people can just want to withdraw for a while etc., but if I added them as a friend and never hear from them and they don’t respond to any of my initiatives  I am really wondering what is the purpose of friendship.  Is it just a matter of hoarding as many friends as possible on your profile? There are people that ask questions or suggestions in their blog or in pods and then I take the time to respond and I never even hear from them. I think that’s crude and I’ve been thinking about deleting those ‘ friends’    but I kind of find that hard as well, so  how do other people deal with that I am wondering?

I don’t get a lot of visits or reactions on my blog , not even from my friends which I  kind of feel dissappointed about  but  I find blogging foremost an avenue to express some of my thoughts and feeling and if people want to share I welcome that very much but i have chosen not  to invest to much energy into getting frustrated about it.
With pods I feel a bit different. You engage in a pod to communicate. Now in active pods there is enough response but in pods that are less active I find it embarassing that at first joining a pod some people put in a hello as introduction, or a nice poem or whatever and they simply never get a reaction, not even from the pod cultivator. That’s happened to me and I’ve seen it happen to other people. That I find frustrating. That is also why I reacted to Nicoles question in Gaia Support on the possiblity of making a list on the activity of pods rather than the amount of members.

Well Marmelade, I think eventhough at Gaia we hold the intention to be the change we want to see happen, we are all people with our beauty and our flaws so in that respect it is a lot like real life. And a great opportunity  not only to share but also learn  to deal with our frustration of unfullfilled expectations etc.
You see what I have learned from this thread of yours is that I shouldn’t take it so personally. It apparently also happens to people that are active in all kinds of interesting discussions, have great blog etc.
Thank you for sharing, Marmelade and see you around.

Blessing,
Alluvja

Nicole : wakingdreamer

about 20 hours later

Nicole said

hi Ben, i feel guilty that because i decided to publicise this blog so much you have had to deal with people who are genuinely frustrated! thanks for being so gosh darned sweet about it.

I know you are really happy here most of the time and of course so am I, but I am delighted that we are talking openly about some of the difficulties.

Sometimes minor things could make a big difference. For example if new people knew what the colours of people’s names on their friends list meant (I just figured that out LOL) and how to find their friends’ blogs and how always to clipboard their comments so they don’t get eaten by the Gaia monster, there would be a lot higher satisfaction.

How do we support and communicate with each other to make our Gaia experience the best it can be? Gotta run but back later this aft. love you all!

about 20 hours later

Enlightened.thinker said

One thing I have learned here Ben is that the blog that is no big deal, or the blog you may have whipped out rapidly, can have wings you would never have expected!

There is no judgment here at all, and even minor frustrations can be catalysts for change…

so ….enjoy and revel in the wonderful blog you have posted, and also in the fact that so many wise “ole” Gaians have responded with love! LOL

The wind takes these blogs and we all feel the breeze!

And WOW Meenakshi! I knew tou were a prof i my heart of hearts!

Enjoy the journey Ben, we are all here with you…and that is a wonderful blessings!

🙂

Bowing deeply to you all my dear friends! And waving back frantically at Deb!
Aley

~Kes : be cause

about 21 hours later

~Kes said

Great Blog Group!!!  The end result is so worth reposting.  I get overwhelmed at times of where to post and do read some blogs without acknowledging or adding to the comment section because this site is such a spiritual candy store. There are so many awesome viewpoints and I keep coming back for more and hope I can exchange some of my own experience because I receive so much.
I have found that if I sit too long at the computer it can become introverting so I go outside and either take a walk or do some work in the garden to become more extroverted.  Reversely if I am out doing heavy work, it is calming to sit here and share with my worldly friends.  This helps.
I have a “do it now” policy where I answer my e mails first then check the rounds on my groups and either just read or post if I feel I can contribute.  I am guilty of not commenting on everything I read and will start pushing the “I like it button” or give seeds or comment on the grapevine as a courtesy while I am in their moment.
If things get to serious for me, I post a youtube or write something upbeat and create more insouciance in my attitude as the physical world does align up under that showing we are as spiritual beings more senior to seriousity. 🙂  I even hang out in the play pod if I find myself too solid.
If there is a pod that requires me to come up with a more detailed answer then I just do that and allow it time but then that day don’t make the rounds.I do check the “new” orange tab and find that there are more active people to help share with.  Basically I treat things as a circle or a cycle of action to start the blog or comment or pod, go through the change of reading and adding to the motion and ending it to where its done.  Then when I route off of the computer I do something to extrovert like take a walk or just go outside and give myself space.
Hope this helps.  Thanks for posting such an insightful and most helpful blog.

Mamakat : Voyager

1 day later

Mamakat said

Hi Marmalade!

From one cat to another, I hear you…I’ve been up and down about this blogging business since I’ve been here.  I guess my only advice to you is BLOG FOR YOURSELF–it’s a free soapbox, journal, and self-discovery tool all rolled into one!   And it’s also a way for a wandering traveller to suddenly find you on the road.  I’ve met a lot of kindred spirits here that way. 

You have a special light to share with the world and we WILL see it eventually.  Thank you for being you and for sharing yourself with this community.

Marmalade : Gaia Explorer

1 day later

Marmalade said

Alluvja,
“but if I added them as a friend and never hear from them and they don’t respond to any of my initiatives  I am really wondering what is the purpose of friendship.  Is it just a matter of hoarding as many friends as possible on your profile?”

I’ve wondered about this. 

I’ve been reluctant to invite lots of friends because it seems kind of weird.  Many people seem to invite friends as a way to connect with others before they even really get to know the person.  I’d rather get to know someone first and then use the friend invitation as a way of deepening an already developing connection.  I don’t want lots of connections… just a few that feel meaningful to me. 

Even so, I do usually accept friend invites when they come my way.  But I can’t help wondering what purpose it serves in most cases.

“There are people that ask questions or suggestions in their blog or in pods and then I take the time to respond and I never even hear from them. I think that’s crude and I’ve been thinking about deleting those ‘ friends’    but I kind of find that hard as well, so  how do other people deal with that I am wondering?”

So far, I’ve posted around quite a bit.  And, mostly, I don’t concern myself too much about my comments after posting them especially the more brief comments.  The main reason is that I get distracted by all of the new opportunities to post that I forget where I’ve already posted.  This is a problem in itself as I’d like to keep better track of my own activity.  Hopefully, I haven’t left anyone hanging in a thread I responded to.  I’m still working out an efficient method of keeping track of everything.

I try to focus mostly on pods and blogs that are more active.  The main place I’ve been posting on is the God Pod and I follow the discussions there very closely… partly because I’m a mod there.

“I don’t get a lot of visits or reactions on my blog , not even from my friends which I  kind of feel dissappointed about  but  I find blogging foremost an avenue to express some of my thoughts and feeling and if people want to share I welcome that very much but i have chosen not  to invest to much energy into getting frustrated about it.”

Yeah, people either comment or they don’t. 

The best decision I’ve made so far on Gaia is to join and be active on the God Pod.  I’ve met many interesting people there.  Its where I connected with Nicole and she has been a helpful guide in figuring out this Gaia community. 

I don’t see the God Pod as taking away from my focus on blogging.  Some of the members there also blog.  And many blogs (including some of my own) get posted in discussion threads.

“With pods I feel a bit different. You engage in a pod to communicate. Now in active pods there is enough response but in pods that are less active I find it embarassing that at first joining a pod some people put in a hello as introduction, or a nice poem or whatever and they simply never get a reaction, not even from the pod cultivator. That’s happened to me and I’ve seen it happen to other people. That I find frustrating.”

I’ve joined inactive or less active pods.  But, for the most part, I’ve limited my postings to more active pods.  Sadly, some of the pods that look the most interesting have gone by the wayside.  I’d attempt to revive some of them If I thought I could and if I had more time.

Thanks for your detailed response!  In fact, thanks to everyone for all of the detailed responses.  I love to give and receive thorough comments.  Its ironic that its this blog entry that has ended up as being my most popular so far.  🙂

Marmalade : Gaia Explorer

1 day later

Marmalade said

Aley,
“Limited time is problematic…but do what you love first, just for yourself…blog that thought or idea. I realize it is frustrating to feel no one is listening…but remember this is your journey and all you do and say and feel is a wonderful legacy to your journey…”

That is good advice.  I do love blogging.  For sure I never run out of thoughts and ideas… its nice to capture them in words before they slip away.

Nicole,
“hi Ben, i feel guilty that because i decided to publicise this blog so much you have had to deal with people who are genuinely frustrated! thanks for being so gosh darned sweet about it.”

I really don’t mind.  I’m enjoying the discussion.

“Sometimes minor things could make a big difference. For example if new people knew what the colours of people’s names on their friends list meant (I just figured that out LOL)”

Would ya mind sharing what those darn colours mean?  I had noticed them.

Mamakat,
“From one cat to another, I hear you…I’ve been up and down about this blogging business since I’ve been here.  I guess my only advice to you is BLOG FOR YOURSELF-it’s a free soapbox, journal, and self-discovery tool all rolled into one!   And it’s also a way for a wandering traveller to suddenly find you on the road.  I’ve met a lot of kindred spirits here that way.”

I give a hearty ‘meow’ to that!  I have had similar thoughts.  All I can do is put it out there.  I just enjoy expressing my views and sharing info.  I know that when I’ve done web searches that some of the most useful info and insightful povs can come from blogs.  The more I blog then the more opportunity for connections to happen.

KES,
“this site is such a spiritual candy store.”

Yum!

“I have a “do it now” policy…”

You sound so systematic.  It sounds impressive.  I’m much more haphazard in my methodology

“If things get to serious for me, I post a youtube…”

Youtube is awesome.  I try to break up my serious blogs with a silly video or two.

Thanks all!  Please come again.  🙂

Nicole : wakingdreamer

1 day later

Nicole said

Exactly Ben! Now why would the Gaia devs set up something as helpful as this and not explain it? Sigh.

If a name is orange (or red) on your friends list or in the members list of a pod, it means the person is online, if it’s blue he or she is offline. I only figured this out because a friend asked me about it, and I noticed that all the orange ones were those who had recently visited , so deduced what was happening.

My friend instantly made the link with the red pill, blue pill from the Matrix, and I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if the Gaia devs had that in the back of their minds when designing this feature LOL

Yeah! I’m glad all my blog pimping worked out for you, Ben. At first I was worried it would get negative but it’s turned out to be a great resource.

Marmalade : Gaia Explorer

1 day later

Marmalade said

Thank you Nicole for enlightening me.  There is only one problem.  I think my colours are broken because your name is always orange.  🙂

Nicole : wakingdreamer

1 day later

Nicole said

um… blushing

guess i’m busted eh? LOL hopeless Gaia addict

1Vector3 : "Relentless Wisdom"

1 day later

1Vector3 said

Hey Ben, I am rushing off to my day and will read more thoroughly and respond more later, but I myself certainly do not “value activism and positivity above all,”   and I think you know I’m as much a minority reader and thinker as you….

And I hope you have good sandbags around your house…… heard unpleasant things about the Iowa River…..

More later, OM Bastet

Nicole : wakingdreamer

2 days later

Nicole said

Flooding problems, Ben?

Marmalade : Gaia Child

2 days later

Marmalade said

Hey Om and Nicole,

Thanks for the concern.

No, flooding isn’t a problem directly where I’m living even though I’m only a short walk away from where it is flooding. The main part of Iowa City is on higher ground. Most of the buildings near the river are University and businesses.

The water levels are still below what they were in ’93. But it won’t peak for another week or so. The same buildings that were flooded 15 yrs ago probably will be flooded again. It makes one wonder why anyone would’ve built there in the first place. Cheap land I guess.

I was walking down by the river with my parents. It was interesting to see all of the fortifications that were being built with concrete and sand bags. The water was getting darn close to the bottom of the bridges, but so far they haven’t been closed around here.

Now the Reserves have been called in. I saw 5 large army trucks hauling sand. Whatever they’re going to do, they better do it quick.

There is one neighborhood down by the river. I’m sure the people living there are quite worried. It doesn’t look good for them as the park next to that neighborhood has now essentially become a part of the river.

OTOH the ducks seemed to be having a good time.

We were just hit by a tornado a couple years back. Mother Nature just won’t leave us alone.

Nicole : wakingdreamer

2 days later

Nicole said

let’s pray that the reserves etc do the trick so that neighbourhood by the river doesn’t get flooded!

Alluvja :  Love In Action

3 days later

Alluvja said

Hello Ben,

I want to thank you as well for your detailed reaction at my comment. I find it helpful to hear how others are dealing with these ‘minor frustrations’.  Fortunelely they are ‘minor’  to me too and more and more I am just accepting that things are just the way they are and i am focussing on all the beauty and communications that ís going on here.
In that respect I thought it would be nice to share here 2 unexpected wonderful things that happened thanks to Gaia: I met my first 2 Gaia members life!   One of which was already a friend here on Gaia but I didn’t actually know at first she lived in the Netherlands as well(cos she’s not dutch) and how close by she lived!  I visited her today in Amsterdam and we had dinner and a great time!  And then yesterday I went to an evening that was announced here on Gaia on the dutch pod by a member from the Netherlands that had been part of the organization of a filmmaking event and yesterday 10 short spiritual films were presented. The makers had the challenger do do that in 48 hours, and the winner got a sum of money to make another spiritual movie.
So I thought I wanted to share that because so many members are from the US and abroad that i found it quite amazing connecting with these people without really having looked for it!
The universe is so abundant!

Have a wonderful day,
Love and light,
Alluvja

Nicole : wakingdreamer

3 days later

Nicole said

Hi Alluvja, is one of the Dutch you met Arjan? That is so cool!

Marmalade : Gaia Child

3 days later

Marmalade said

I’m back!  The internet kept coming and going after I posted my previous comment here, and then I lost my connection entirely all of yesterday.  The flooding must’ve knocked out some important lines.  I have much I want to catch up with here on Gaia, but I don’t have the time at the moment.  I’m going to do some volunteer work down by the river.  I’ll probably be able to post some tonight.

Nicole, I’m almost certain that the neigbhorhood by the river is flooded by now.  I doubt the sandbags would hold as we got more rain last night.  It flooded in ’93 and we are above that level.  The river is at about 30 feet and will continue to rise for another week.  We are already past the record high point and it will increase by at least another few feet.

All the affected areas have been evacuated.  No one should be in danger, but there will be much property damage.

Alluvja :  Love In Action

3 days later

Alluvja said

Ben,

I saw the water floods on TV and it was mighty bad. I want to wish you and all the people in your community all the best and hope plenty of help will come to prevent that worse things happen. It’s good that people are evacuated and for now the safety of people seems secure,  but still I saw some of the sadness on the faces of people who lost a lot of personal stuff.  It must be terrible to find your homes so damaged. I remember when i was a little girl there was a terrible flood in the south west part of the Netherlands, many people lost their lives and many more their homes. After that the engineers started to make out famous Delta works. But now with all this climate stuff new and even better things have to be constructed. The Netherlands have a lot of history and experience in fighting the water. But we can never stop being aware, half of the country lies beneath sealevel. Some of our finest engineers are working now in the New Orleans area.
Anyway do your good work and bless all of you.
Alluvja

Nicole : wakingdreamer

4 days later

Nicole said

Yes, you are the world leaders in protection from the sea, of necessity.

Oh dear, Ben, that is a very difficult situation for your area….

Marmalade : Gaia Child

4 days later

Marmalade said

Hello Alluvja,

Thanks for you kind thoughts.

I did some sandbagging.  I’m sure I’ll feel it in the morning.

Unfortunately, almost all of the areas previously sandbagged have been breached.  That neighborhood was flooded, but I didn’t see it and so I don’t how bad it is.  A large part of the campus by the river is flooded.  I’m hoping the art museum is up high enough.

There are three locations they are still trying to protect.  Two of the areas are the water plant and the elctric plant which are both directly on the river.  If the water plant is flooded, then of course the city’s water would be undrinkable.  The other area is the University library which is also close to the water.  That is where I was volunteering.  It will probably be fine, but its hard to tell as the water might rise another 4 ft. 

All of the volunteers were much more focued in these last few areas and the sandbagging was going quickly, but there isn’t much to be done other than wait.  Sandbagging can only do so much.  in the areas where it flooded past the sandbags, it probably had very little to do with the water going over.  There was such a vast area they were trying to protect that they were spread too thin.  The library is being protected on the side facing the river, but upriver its already breached and so may flood the library from that side.  The problem is that they were planning based on their experience from ’93 which is no longer applicable.

After volunteering, I walked along the river and it was truly amazing.  There is nothing surprising about the flooding as all of these buildings were knowingly built in a floodplain afterall.  Silly humans.  What was amazing was just nature being nature.  The City Park was entirely flooded along with the road on the other side making the water there about 4 times as wide as the river normally is.  Approximately where that road is was where a tributary of the river flowed 100 or so years ago.  The river was just reclaiming it from the humans that filled it in.  A flooding like this is nothing compared to something like a monsoon, but still its awesome to witness.

Meanwhile, other parts of the US would love some of our water.

1Vector3 : "Relentless Wisdom"

4 days later

1Vector3 said

You were generous, Ben, and there seems to be a lot at stake there. Wow.

I can’t understand how people can live and build in flood-prone areas. I can only understand how I can knowingly continue to live in an earthquake-prone area. Potentially BIG quakes. ROTFL !!!!!!

I don’t have a TV, but your descriptions give a good sense of what it’s like there. The only good thing about these disasters is people pulling together….

Blessings to everyone there and everywhere,
OM Bastet

Marmalade : Gaia Explorer

4 days later

Marmalade said

You bring up a good point Om. 

I was thinking about this.  Why do we help others even when they’ve contributed to their own troubles?  One could say that you help others because one day you may need help, and that is a practical attitude.  My answer is that we help others because we can… not because they’ll necessarily help us later, not because they will appreciate what we do for them, not because they deserve it, and certainly not because we will be rewarded in heaven. 

As you say, the good comes from people pulling together.  This good remains good no matter what the results of all the effort.

For instance, I give my spare change to the homeless sometimes, but I don’t worry about what they do with it.  If they get drunk or buy cigarettes, then so be it.  At the same time, I’m sure some people I’ve given change to bought food with it.  Whatever the case, my reason for giving to them is not in hope that their life will be turned around.  When I give, I do so because I want to.  I feel the act of giving in itself can be good if its done with no strings attached.

1Vector3 : "Relentless Wisdom"

4 days later

1Vector3 said

Perspicacious analysis, Ben !!!!!! I am totally aligned…… It’s sooooo highly beneficial to let go of results. As a teacher, that’s been hard for me, but now I do my teaching and can walk away knowing I did my best to help someone “get” it, and if they don’t, so be it. Sometimes I don’t even bother to check if it’s not an ongoing relationship. I used to obsess about whether people “got” it, and fret and pour out tons of smothering effort !!!

The worst disaster I think I’ve personally been in was the multi-state blackout of fall 1965. I was in Manhatten. We thought for awhile it was WWIII. The stories of generosity are amazing….

Blessingszzzzzzzzz,
OM Bastet

Nicole : wakingdreamer

4 days later

Nicole said

it is great to see the human spirit rise to these challenges though we don’t wish them on anyone

Marmalade : Gaia Explorer

12 days later

Marmalade said

Back to the topic of the Gaia community…  Dave wrote a blog recently that relates.  And I wrote the following comment:

Interesting experience you’ve had.  I think it can take a while to connect to such a large community as this.  Its easy for newcomers to get loss in the masses.  As I’ve belonged to other communities, I realized this was an issue early on.  The reason I joined and posted on pods was because I figured that was probably the only way I’d connect with the community at large.

When I came here, I just wanted a place to blog.  I wasn’t really looking for another community as I’ve belonged to many.  But I did want to connect if only just to get some comments on my blog.  Also, I’m so used to writing online via thread discussions that blogging felt kinda lonely.

Its strange because, even though I’ve wanted to connect, I’ve resisted inviting others as friends for the most part.  I rarely even use the seeds.  The other communities I’ve joined didn’t have these kinds of functions and they seem weird to me.

I have looked around for people with similarities to my interests and worldview.  If someone seems to have some things in common, then I’ll put their blog on notification and watch it.  If I end up being interested enough to comment on their blog, then I can invite them as a friend.  But I don’t want my friend list to be too long.

Like you, I’ve looked for other active bloggers, but activity isn’t enough.  I look for bloggers who write more than short answers to the question of the day, and I look for people who comment a lot in other people’s blogs.  I also look at their profile, but that often doesn’t say much.  I do look at the picture, but that doesn’t figure into my decision making to any great extent.  However, if a picture looks too light and fluffy, then I’m wary.  I’ve found light and fluffy pictures often signify light and fluffy blogs.

I have used the resonance thingy a bit.  Its quite a nice little feature.

I’ve only tried the friends of a friends approach in an haphazard way.  I watch my friends blogs and the blogs on notifications.  When I see a comment I like, I’ll check out the person’s profile and blog if only to get some context for where they’re coming from.  But this has led to me inviting that person as a friend at least on one occasion.

This friends of friends thing is interesting.  It creates these little groups that are semi-enclosed.  I’ve noticed that many of my friends tend to have the same friends.  But then I sometimes come across someone outside of my circle of friends and they have a large set of friends who I’ve never even seen around.

Nicole : wakingdreamer

12 days later

Nicole said

thanks Ben! That was an interesting blog and discussion.

Marmalade : Gaia Child

12 days later

Marmalade said

Hey Nicole!  You’re welcome.  I decided to link to Dave’s blog because it related to this one, but also because this so far has been my most popular blog and so I figured it would give some advertising to Dave’s blog.

That was a good demonstration of Gaia community.  Meenakshi commented on Dave’s blog because she noticed I had.  You commented there because you followed the link I provided above.  Then Centria noticed you commented over there and followed over with her own comment.

I’m sure that kind of thing becomes even more common when you’ve been here for a while.

Nicole : wakingdreamer

13 days later

Nicole said

indeed! in the end we are all following each other around in a mad mixy daisy chain lol

Individual and Collective Good

This post is a response to a recent post of mine.

Status Anxiety

Basically, I’m very cynical.  I don’t believe American society is genuinely a meritocracy.  Yes, sometimes people manage to escape their circumstances, but these are few and far between (and it should be noted that statistics show a person is more likely to escape their lowly circumstances if they’re a white male from an industrialized nation).  Anyways, the exception proves the rule.  I am cynical, but from my perspective I’m just being realistic for I’m basing my opinion on the known facts. 

On the other hand, I don’t believe US politics are even genuinely democratic.  I agree with the analysis of the evidence that shows the voting process has been manipulated in the past.  Plus, I just don’t think a two-party system is enough free choice to create a democracy, especially considering both major parties have many ties to big business. 

I go by the advice of someone who was in a Nazi concentration camp.  To paraphrase, “If they give me two choices, I always pick the third.”  The context of that statement is that the Nazis would offer two lines in order to create a false sense that choice mattered.  People would be too distracted by the illusion of choice that they wouldn’t riot.

Cynicism and realism aside, that isn’t the reason I’m writing this.  I was listening to Iowa Public Radio (public radio being a fitting format for the subject of this post) last night at work as I usually do and there were two interviews.

The first interview was about a guy, with the help of a former drug dealer, who started an organization to offer work to troubled youth.  He had an interesting way of going about it.  They make and sell their own ice-cream and so it’s run like a normal business.  The reason for this is because he thinks charity was the wrong way of trying to help people and he wants the youth to work hard to earn what they get.  He wanted the youth and the community to be both invested in and inspired by this organization.  So, the youth employees have a share in the business and they are selling shares of the business to people in the community.

What intrigued me is that on the surface it seems to fit the meritocracy paradigm, but there is an important difference.  He doesn’t just want to help individuals.  He wants to help the entire community.  It’s ineffective trying to help an individual if there isn’t a community there to support the individual.  That is the failing of the enlightened selfishness of the mainstream conception of meritocracy.  In the real world, no one earns anything all on their own.  An individual only ever succeeds to the degree that he is a part of a successful social support system (whether friends, family, school, or community).  This is why most wealthy people were raised by wealthy parents in wealthy communities and went to wealthy schools with wealthy peers.  This is why most poor people were raised by poor parents in poor communities and went to poor schools with poor peers.

The ideal of meritocracy misses out on the larger social reality.  This is why US democracy tries to uphold the ideal of meritocratic individualism through socialist programs.  In theory, public schools are supposed to help level the playing field.  They do to an extent, but only very marginally.  The public schools in the wealthy communities attract the best teachers.  Besides, most wealthy kids go to expensive private schools and have private tutors.  There is no level playing field.  A smart, hardworking kid going to a crappy public school in a poverty-stricken, crime-ridden community will be lucky to make it out alive in order to one day become a minimum wage worker who barely makes ends meet.  When the world a kid grows up in is filled with suffering and desperation, it’s hard for that kid to see outside of that situation and actually believe he has many options open to him.

Even so, social progress does happen.  It’s just that progress of the lower socio-economic classes is minute in comparison to the ever-growing wealth and power of the elite.  Also, some argue that the middle class is disappearing and the gap is widening between the rich and poor.  This widening gap, however, is less obvious to those of the older generations who grew up and started careers during a time when the gap was narrowing.  What many don’t realize is the gap narrowed because of the implementation of many progressive ideals.  There is of course Social Security which is one of the most successful programs of the liberal agenda, and it’s always odd that conservatives will attack public healthcare while defending Social Security.  And there are the accomplishments of workers unions: minimum wage, 5 day work week, 8 hr working day, overtime, worker safety, employer-provided health insurance, child labor laws, and on and on; but the workers unions have been losing power for the last half century.

My grandfather on my mom’s side was a factory worker.  If I remember correctly, he didn’t support unions.  He believed in hard work and earning one’s own way, but he didn’t realize that his lifestyle was as nice as it was because of the unions.  The unions benefit even those who are members and even those who oppose unions… heck, the unions even benefit employees of companies that aren’t unionized by way of free market competition.  My grandfather had a decent house in a decent neighborhood.  He raised three kids who all got good public educations and two of his kids went to college.  He bought a new car on a regular basis which was his pride and joy, and the whole family went on yearly vacations.  He retired with plenty of savings and good benefits which has supported my grandmother since he died.  He did work hard, but none of that would’ve been possible without the workers union and other liberal agendas.

My mom was one of the kids who went to college.  A generation before, a woman wouldn’t have had all the opportunities she had.  It was the liberal agenda of woman who had to fight for those rights over a long period of time and at cost of great personal suffering.  First off, she went to a public school which was of course funded publicly (i.e., socialism).  Secondly, she went to a state school that was funded publicly (i.e., socialism).  She has worked her entire life for public schools (i.e., a socialist institution).  And yet she is a conservative.  If conservative policies had been implemented throughout US history, we wouldn’t have such things publicly funded schools, unions, and the civil rights movement.  (BTW my use of conservative and liberal aren’t equated with Republican and Democrat.)  If social conservatives had their way for the last couple of centuries, my mom would be a traditional stay-at-home mother with no personal rights (no right to vote, no right to have a bank account in her name, etc.).

So, why is it so often the same people who are for meritocracy all the while being suspicious of the liberal agenda?  Why do so many working class people attack Obama and the Democrats as socialists all the while it’s the working class that has benefitted the most from socialist democracy?

Let me now discuss the second interview.  Diane Rehm was talking with Roger G. Kennedy about the New Deal. 

Most people know that there were many public works from that time such as the parks that people still enjoy, but the public works included all aspects of society.  There were also many public buildings built by public works projects, and Kennedy was specifically talking about the art created for communities (both large and small) across the country.  Kennedy mentioned a quote: “The work of art is to help to coax the soul of the nation back to life.” 

Artists during the New Deal saw themselves as part of the larger community of the nation rather than as just individuals looking for their own gain.  There was the belief that what individuals did mattered on the collective level and so people were willing to commit themselves to collective goals.  There was this desire to create a collective sense of identity, but this desire included both national identity and local community identity.  The public art that was created during the New Deal was funded by the government, but it was the local community that decided what to create that represented them.  This art is still around today and is still informing people about their sense of collective identity.

Compare that to our society now.  The popular ideal of selfish meritocracy is supported by a belief that government is either a failing institution or entirely outside the realm of the individual.  Instead of a collective sense of identity and collective sense of responsibility, we have class and culture wars being incited by fear-mongering pundits.  Our whole society is built on public works from public roads to military-funded projects such as the early internet.  However, much of the public works projects from the New Deal are now gone or in serious decay.

There is potential for our society to shift back again.  I believe that our society’s ideals often don’t correlate with reality, but there are hints that people are slowly beginning to demand that politicians do more than pay lip-service to these ideals.  According to Strauss and Howe, the Millennial generation are much more socially oriented and are more committed to the collective good.  So, maybe we’ll see new public works in the next few decades that will reinvigorate US culture. 

Furthermore, I think that ideals are good even when we fail them.  There is the idea in psychology about role-playing.  People need to pretend to be something before actually becoming that thing.  As such, Americans are like little children playing at democracy, and maybe one day we will grow up and form an actual democratic society.