Togetherness at sunset

On my second last day in Kauai I met Ryan Ao, a filmmaker, photographer, and for that day my tour guide to Kalalau Valley. On that day we had a really interesting conversation that resonated with me ever since so I thought about putting my thoughts down in this blog.

One of Ryan’s previous projects was that he travelled the U.S. by bike for two years, living in sustainable communities and making a film about this journey: “Within reach”. His next endeavor is a film about suicide prevention, based on the story of Robin Williams. So we talked a lot about how living in sustainable communities can create stronger ties between people and thus create a healthier environment for us.

On the 1.5 hour drive to Kalalau the group in the bus talked about digital media and it quickly became clear that almost everybody was unhappy with digital communication, in particular with Facebook.

“The more connections we build on social media the less connected we become.”

That really got me thinking because if it wasn’t for the internet I would not be in the bus at that moment. I got introduced to Ryan through Sean, who was my Airbnb host. The internet and the possibility that strangers can connect, offer their homes, share their knowledge about their country, was the means that brought us together.

And there’s a great chance in this. We will not go back to the 70s. We will carry around a device that connects us to the internet. But this is not something that happens to us. We are in charge. We are in control of technology. We are the ones that put content out there and we decide what we post, what we communicate to whom. Some people complain that Facebook is not interesting, because their friends post simple, everyday statements like “just cooking porridge”, that are plain boring. I had to think about a recent conversation with my mother on the phone. She called me on a Saturday morning just to ask what I’m doing and we talked and she said, that she is just about to cook asparagus while my father is mowing the lawn. This gave me a warm fuzzy feeling, this little piece of information was not uninteresting for me, but I knew that my parents are doing fine and that at home is everything like it should be.

So it is not technology that makes us less connected. We should post meaningful content, to people we care about. Me personally I don’t want to go back to the 70s, I am happy about the possibilities we have today, and I think my purpose is about making technology less scary and more meaningful for people.

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