Keeping in touch and present in the lives of family and friends can be a challenge. Thank goodness for the ease of apps that show us where a friend may be traveling, where he/she is dining, who just got married, an outfit of the day, and on and on… right? But, how present is that really, and what about those few, such as myself, who choose to not be on social media (except LinkedIn)? Have I lost all my friends?
I have been off social media for a little over three years and to my own surprise don’t miss it very much. There are certainly times of less convenience in not opening an app to see who’s globetrotting where, but its also been incredibly meaningful to be one of the first to be called from a friend sharing the news of her engagement. I am not making a point that being on or off social media is better one way or another, I am simply sharing my positive experience being off such apps and how I maintain my friendships through direct and intentional presence.
People tend to be surprised at how I stay involved within my friendships. Ironically, I attribute being disconnected from social media as a primary reason to being successful at keeping in touch – mainly because I don’t know what is going on without directly inquiring or checking in. When I’m thinking of a friend, I simply compose an email or start a text conversation, or call! I previously mentioned being a huge fan of snail mail, so sending cards/letters of thanks, congratulations, birthdays, well wishes or simply just because is also a way I stay in touch. When I directly communicate, I feel more involved in knowing details and true feelings heard from the other. It takes effort and time, but for me its worth it to be present.
Orange County provides great active ways to stay in touch, whether it be catch ups on hikes (Crystal Cove, Peter’s Canyon, Top of the World, and Laurel Canyon are a few of my favorites!), walks, biking, stand-up paddle boarding – just to name a few. Throughout the year there are charitable 5Ks/marathons which are also fun to partake in with friends. Volunteering with a nonprofit whether it be one-time (soup kitchen or special events) or regularly can be double fun with company, so finding opportunities and sharing them with friends is another way of doing good in the community while spending time together!
I enjoy keeping in touch the ways that I do and it works for me, as long as the time I spend with friends is quality and I am present in their lives.