In this guest post Charlotte considers the differences between online and ‘offline’ relationships, and speaks of how she plans to make changes in her own life.
For the last few years my life has been that of a modern nomad. Having lived in over 7 different places and various countries over the last 8 years I am pretty sure that anyone who takes a look at my Facebook profile will say my life has been pretty awesome. And to be honest it is pretty awesome – I have experienced more places and cultures than most people do in a lifetime, and I am only 27. Nevertheless this has come at a cost, a cost – that now I am moving back to Sheffield, where I plan to settle down – I am suddenly painfully aware off.
Living in various places for a short amount of time allows for meeting the most interesting and amazing people and building a large international network. In the beginning this is exciting and you pour yourself into these new connections 100%. But then comes the inevitable moment when you have to say goodbye. You try your hardest and stay in touch. Facebook becomes your best friend, and you keep in touch and up to date with your far away friends. You do this a few times and then you start to feel a change in your behaviour – you are fatigued of making new relationships that only scratch the surface.
With the Internet and various social media I can now control who I like to interact with at any given point in time. People have a tendency to avoid pain so I am likely to choose those connections where I can enjoy the good and don’t have to deal with the bad. Making new real-time connections therefore becomes harder and harder because we are all conditioned by our online lives where our ‘connections’ and ‘friends’ give us only pleasure and no pain – a convenient agreement. I have created a world where I have all the pleasure and no pain in my relationships and yet I feel like I am worse off…
But when I take a closer look at my life it seems that this ‘pleasure, no pain’ philosophy does not show in the relationships I have had for years on end – from before the Internet was such a focal point in our lives. In these relationships I enjoy taking the bad and being a point of support when someone I hold close to my heart is experiencing a tough time. I want to be there, I want to be by their side, and offer support in whatever way I can. Then, what is the difference?
I believe the difference lies in building offline connections where you are faced with living your life together as a community because you are co-dependent on each other. And for some of us ‘dependency’ is a curse word and not applicable in our modern western world society. But the truth is, we are all dependent on each other in one way or another – the difference now is that we can choose to ignore the things we don’t enjoy in our real-time lives, and substitute these with relationships that are seemingly painless, exist (often) online, and are less demanding and ‘painful’.
As I am moving back to Sheffield, where I plan to stay put for at least a few years, I am making a conscious decision to build offline relationships and an offline community where there is space for both the pleasure and the pain. The things you don’t like about people but yet make them who they are. I realise that what I have been missing from my life is having those types of relationships, and have them shape me and my life. Not only will this benefit me as a person – I am sure what I have to give will equally benefit my offline close relationships as well.
I am a very driven, cheerful and enthusiastic person who loves planning and making things happen! I have a broad range of interests but that doesn’t mean I lack focus, I just do many things at once. I love communication and stories that move people to become a better version of themselves. What motivates me and makes me happy is when I can help someone else further in their goal by sharing my personal network and resources. I am lucky to combine both what I love and motivates me in my new job at the University of Sheffield as a Marketing and Communication Officer for the Landscape department.
Follow Charlotte on Twitter: @SheffCharlotte