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Informal "Connections"

I am finding that the older I get, the more I need to connect with people. The more I need to feel part of a community. The more I need to feel noticed and appreciated and…well alive.

In many ways-this (excuse the cliche)”high tech” world of ours offer us so much in the way of communication options. The technology is impressive indeed. But deep down I feel like we as a culture have regressed so much. Now we’re all sitting in coffee shops emailing the person two tables away. Pretty soon we’ll be emailing the barista our coffee drink order and then tipping them electronically via a follow up email.

Don’t get me wrong–I love the computer, my cell phone, my ipod and, of course, my camera but… Most of the time I still feel, well–‘disconnected’, and unnoticed. Invisible at times. That is until I type my way into the world wide web. My cyber home, my cyber family, my cyber friends. A place where my photos can do the talking for me.

I joined the SmugMug Daily Photo community recently to connect with others as passionate and obsessed with photography as I am. To connect with people who appreciate pictures, look for meaning in them; those who notice the small things. They help me to grow in my photography and offer criticism, insight and perspective. They notice me. In posting photos I am looking to express my creativity mostly but I am often offered positive feedback, perspective, and even compliments. (Icing on the cake as far as I am concerned.) I just want to feel part of something bigger than me where I can learn and grow (can you hear the Cheers theme playing in the background?). I choose to write and communicate with pictures rather than words. It feels safer and, as it turns out, is more rewarding.

What baffles me is that in such a short period of time I have established those connections, I have been touched by them. For example, my family knows I am a total goob about taking pictures. Most of the time they tire from me sending them-especially when they come in large bunches. Often they don’t respond and certainly almost never offer any feedback (or thanks). Heck-even my own husband rolls his eyes when I grab the camera bag for a quick outing. (He grumbles even more when I point the camera at him.) But here on this site–in just over two months I have learned about people’s thoughts, homes, travels, passions, loves, pets and pet peeves, losses– the list goes on and on. I’ve communicated with people, connected with them, and learned from them. It is, in some ways, like a family. I’ve even had one guy work on my images to improve them for me (thanks George). Almost always, when I ask a question, I get a personal (kind and helpful) response. All this from people I have never met and probably never will get the chance to.

Even more baffling is that I can walk into the camera store where I purchased (a guess here as it would be too depressing to actually tally these number up) over $4,000 worth of camera equipment in the past three years unnoticed for ten minutes..probably because I have a baby in a stroller. And even more troubling that when I walk to the counter the sales person (who is looking through a stack of photos he’s recently developed) says “can I help you” without ever making eye contact with me for almost a minute. He’s uninterested in me, my request and troubled that I am asking to get my CCD sensor in the camera cleaned. “That will take over a week you know?”, he says while still thumbing through the photos. “Humm-“, I say, “that’ll be better than taking pictures on a two thousand dollar camera with two huge spots on the sensor”, I say to this drone-like twentysomething.

Truth be told, I’d rather go home, get online and feel alive again.


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Lori - March 22, 2008 - 6:44 am

This “high-tech” vs “high-touch” world is interesting indeed, as evidenced by your camera story encounter.

I know how you feel, though, about returning to the Warm World of the Web after such coldness. So odd.

Thanks for making my real-life world so warm, MB.

Did you get the invitation to the ColoBloggers’ Google Group? If not, check your spam filter.

Spicy Sister - March 28, 2008 - 9:00 am

Hi! Lori posted a link to your blog on Colobloggers – nice to ¨meet¨you! I have been checking out your photos – they are really nice, and really inspiring! I know NOTHING about photography but I am always trying to get better shots, I love the art of it. I am about to buy a new camera in fact. Nothing too fancy, just a step up from where we’re at currently.

I can really identify with feeling at home in the cybercommunity vs. IRL. As I have been going through infertility, I have found less and less comfort in my friends and family in the real world and more and more in my friends online. Often I feel like what I am going through is invisible to everyone else in my life. It makes me angry and sad at times that those who have known me for years can’t be there for me in the same way. But I am so grateful to have the online community that I do. It’s definitely a strange trade-off.

Denise - March 28, 2008 - 9:19 pm

Just popping in to say “hi” and welcome to ColoBloggers. I love the photo of your son reaching towards the camera. It almost looks like he is bestowing some kind of blessing onto the person viewing the photo.

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