Unpacking My Suitcase

My name is Erin and I don’t like to be alone.

I felt convicted that maybe I have a problem and its time to start talking about it.

The thought began with a TEDx Talk, “Social Media – Sucking Time or Saving Lives,”  by Kristen Howerton, a marriage and family therapist and professor of psychology at Vanguard University. She explains her traumatic experience with the earthquake in Haiti. During the time, she turned to packing her suitcase to keep herself sane. When it was time to leave Haiti, she found herself with the choice to take her child or her suitcase home with her. This seems like a none issue. Yet, the suitcase had become her lifeline, and for a split second, she couldn’t imagine life without it.

Each of us has our own “suitcase” in life at different times. A suitcase is a thing that distracts us from reality and sometimes even ourselves to the point that we might not be able to imagine ourselves without it.

Like many others, technology, especially social media, has become my suitcase.

Technology allows me to always feel connected to others at all times. As a verbal processor, a person who likes to talk to make sense of the world, this is like being a kid in a candy store.

Yet, is this really helping me?

Sherry Turkle, a cultural analyst, explains her findings on this very topic in her TED Talk, “Connected, but alone?” Her answer is that our constant connection is creating a culture of loneliness.

We are not truly connecting in deep conversation with one another anymore. “And we use conversations with each other to learn how to have conversations with ourselves.” Conversations in real life chip away at the facade that we create of ourselves in the digital world. We can no longer edit and filter ourselves so “when we stumble or hesitate or lose our words that we reveal ourselves to each other.”

Only after conversations – non-editing ones – can we begin the process to discover who we are as people through deep self-reflection.

The catch is we have to be willing to be alone.

It just might be that we are so afraid to find out the people that we truly are that clutch our suitcases so tightly that we never let them go.

This week, I am going to start unpacking mine. I might forget my phone and look up to see the people whom I can connect with face to face.

It’s time to see who I really am not just the person I want everyone to think I am.

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