Disconnected

Having just returned from a summer in Europe, I find myself reattached to my phone. You see, while traipsing about the continent, my phone lacked internet and calling access. The only time I was able to check my email and respond to texts were early in the morning before I left and later in the evening after I returned from the day’s adventures. For a person whose homepage is CNN and who reads NPR and BBC articles more often than actual books, not being able to follow the world’s events was both freeing and suffocating.

It was freeing in the sense that I could focus solely on the people and events around me. I wasn’t constantly uploading statuses to Facebook or posting photos to Instagram. When I talked with someone, I was fully there. When I participated in something, I gave it all my attention. The world was more…. real and within reach. However, it was suffocating in the sense that I felt I was living in this privileged European bubble. While the horrid events were happening in Ferguson, Missouri, I was visiting castles in Denmark. And I’m sad to say, that’s really the only thing I’m aware of that went on in the States. I didn’t even know what was going on in Europe while I was there. I was too busy eating pastries in Prague and other cities.

And now that I’m home, I’m trying my very best to catch up to everything that’s been happening. I feel like an awful feminist and person as I was posting pictures of Europe while people’s human rights were being violated, both in the US and the Middle East. I am trying to become more fully aware.

But like I said, in a way, it was truly freeing to not feel so involved or invested. I wasn’t “burdened” by the terrible news and was able to enjoy my time abroad without heavy thoughts weighing on my mind.

And as I think about this, I imagine this how some people feel when confronting feminist or tough social topics. So many people are so apathetic about politics to the point that they don’t know where politicians stand. So many people have said to me, “who cares about Ordain Women? I’ve got enough on my mind.” And I’ve heard so many statements along the lines of, “Who cares what’s going on in Gaza or in Missouri? I’m not there. Why should I care or be informed?” These people are disconnected. These people are of the motto, Ignorance is bliss. But it’s not bliss. It’s really not.

Why try to catch up on the terrible news that I missed out on in Europe? So I can better empathize with my fellow men and women. So I can have an informed opinion and speak out on topics that matter to me. Even if I am so far away from what’s going on here or abroad, there are people that are close to it. And they matter so I should be informed about what matters to them.

Being connected is the very embodiment of “mourning with those who mourn.” It means we are trying to feel what they feel.

So now, I am repenting of the ignorant bliss I had while in Europe. I need to become reconnected, not only to the bad, but also to the good. To be disconnected from the world is be disconnected from humanity.

Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.”

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East River Lady

24 years old. LDS Convert. New York Native. Mormon Feminist.

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14 Responses

  1. Caroline says:

    “Being connected is the very embodiment of “mourning with those who mourn.” It means we are trying to feel what they feel.”

    I like your perspective on this, East River Lady. Being aware of world tragedies and empathizing with those that suffer seems to me to be what we should be doing as Christians. I myself am drawn to those stories that make me feel connected to others and have cried as I listened to NPR stories about people suffering. Specifically I remember a story about some parents looking for their lost dead two year old in the rubble after a huge earthquake in China. I lost it listening to that story. Have you ever found the suffering too much to bear though? I can no longer open mail from PETA or other animal rights orgs. Seeing those visual images of animals being tortured and suffering so hurts too much.

    • Corrina says:

      Caroline, I can relate to this in terms of our MoFem issues. I’ve noticed that I’ve been spending way too much time checking in on MoFem FB groups, and it just keeps adding to my pain. So just this morning, I removed myself from those groups (not because I don’t love them!). But after the recent BBC interview w/ Otterson and Dew, I just feel too much pain to continue to keep up so regularly w/ the MoFem newsfeed of it all. Of course, I’m still staying connected to Exponent and a couple other blogs, but I need to apply this principle and boundaries to the MoFem news due to the pain of it all…sad, I know. Trying to find a balance, I guess.

    • East River Lady says:

      Thanks, Caroline!

      And yes, there are some stories that just instantly make me cry and make me question the humanity of some people. It definitely becomes overwhelming. However, when I find myself in tears over certain stories and events (and even from PETA videos as well), it subconsciously reminds me of my humanity. I’d be more distressed if I didn’t cry or feel overburdened. When something becomes too much to bear, it is almost a call to action for me–– How can I help ease the pain?

  2. jks says:

    I like reading and being informed. However, I also see how it prevents me from connecting with the people who are in my life. If I spend too much time on the internet thinking about global problems, I do not have as much time to spend on real life situations. For instance, this afternoon I could have chosen to go meet the new neighbors, but I am on the internet.
    Caroline – I never feel like that. I am just learning about my daughter and how much feeling she has. She gets overwhelmed with feelings. So does my best friend and my sister. However, I am a T rather than Fin the Myers Briggs personality, and I can read and learn about tragedies and I react, but the feelings don’t overwhelm me. I am trying to understand my daughter who becomes overwhelmed with feelings since it is different than me.

    • East River Lady says:

      Well, one doesn’t have to negate the other. I can read and stay up to date before/after visiting the neighbors. I can be involved in my local community while attempting to be informed and involved with the global community as well. There most definitely needs to be a balance and prioritization, though.

  3. Lisa Noel says:

    One of the things I love most about travel is being able to “disconnect” with the internet. Somehow the world goes on without me. I can put all my attention into new people, situations, places, etc. Those few minutes in the morning and evening with the Wi-Fi and email is quite enough for me. If anything earth-shattering happens, I will find out.

    • East River Lady says:

      Lisa Noel,

      Most definitely that is a pro of traveling is being able to disconnect. It felt good this summer to talk to random people on the train and waiters at restaurants and jump all in into new situations. It was great to give myself 100% to everything going on around me without being distracted.

  4. rtc says:

    Caroline, I feel you. I have what my husband sometimes describes as an overdeveloped sense of empathy. If the children’s hospital or world vision infomercials come on, I am a basketcase in the first 30 seconds. The #yesallwomen campaign nearly did me in. Sometimes, like when trying to help friends or in community service, it’s a blessing to be able to feel others’ pain. Other times, I just want to turn it all off.

  5. Jenny says:

    I enjoyed reading your thoughts on this. I have also had an internal struggle over this topic. Sometimes I would love to go back to my life before I was so connected to the rest of the world. My life was a lot more simple and a lot less exhausting before I cared about feminism, politics, and other difficult topics. I definitely understand why many people want to remain in blissful oblivion. I can’t do that because I care too much. I am trying to find a good balance between being connected to what is going on in the world, and being connected to what is going on in my own life. I agree with you though, that “To be disconnected from the world is be disconnected from humanity.” It is an important part of mourning with those who mourn.

    • East River Lady says:

      Yeah, with feminist and political topics, I’m always having to update my vocabulary and change my perspective about some things. Words and media can offend and I’m having to reevaluate those things. I am glad you care enough to avoid “blissful oblivion”–– there are so many who don’t––, but you’re right in that it is more important to take control and be aware of things going on in your life. You can’t take care of others before you take care of yourself (although, I am guilty of trying to fix the problems of others, because I am avoiding dealing with my own problems… I need to work on that). It is definitely a balance.

  6. EFH says:

    What is wrong with the people that pretend to be active in their religions while not pay attention to the fires and tragedies in the world is that every religion promotes and encourages their own communities to take the side of the orphans, the poor and the widows. All these horrible wars are producing just those kind of people. I personally feel that religion becomes irrelevant when it doesn’t roll up its sleeves to promote the rights of these people, provide resources (as much as they can) to alleviate their sufferings and work hard to restore peace. What is the point of religion if it doesn’t do that? Who cares about the salvation of dead souls when we don’t take care of the living?

  7. Emily U says:

    Thanks for this post, East River Lady. I have some repenting to do myself. But like Caroline I have to manage how much bad news I consume, because it really gets to me, and while I want to mourn with those that mourn, my feelings of despair about things I can’t control don’t seem all that useful.

    • Jess R says:

      It reminds me of some of the psychological research on empathy – for most people, empathic responding (mirroring others’ emotions) is an innate reaction to others’ distress. It can turn in to sympathy; where you separate your distress from theirs, which allows you to take proactive steps to alleviate both individuals’ distress. Or it can become overwhelming and turn inward and become personal distress; you are no longer to think about the other person’s needs.

      I feel like this applies here. Sometimes I have to do some self gate-keeping or I get to distressed to do anything. That isn’t good for anyone.

  1. August 28, 2014

    […] It was freeing in the sense that I could focus solely on the people and events around me. I wasn’t constantly uploading statuses to Facebook or posting photos to Instagram. When I talked with someone, I was fully there. When I participated in something, I gave it all my attention. The world was more…. real and within reach. However, it was suffocating in the sense that I felt I was living in this privileged European bubble. While the horrid events were happening in Ferguson, Missouri, I was visiting castles in Denmark. And I’m sad to say, that’s really the only thing I’m aware of that went …read more […]

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