In yesterday’s missive I talked about connecting with abandon, my new favourite phrase. But perhaps the one thing that I forgot to mention is that connecting with abandon also involves connecting with honesty. With authenticity. It means doing nothing by rote. It means accomplishing everything with conscious effort, always in the moment, aware and present.
The unfortunate thing in modern society is social media makes it far too easy for us to phone in our sentiments. Facebook reminds us of birthdays and I do appreciate that but at least it’s up to us to actually type in a greeting. I’ve never been a fan of flowery generic prose like “Happy birthday. Hope you have an amazing day!” Because the truth is I hope you have an amazing day every day, not just one. I want you to have an amazing month. An amazing life! So I try to steer clear of those sweeping statements. If I can’t write something personal (probably because I don’t know you very well) I settle for a simple Happy Birthday! At least you know you crossed my mind.
But then there’s LinkedIn. This is a platform I use pretty much not at all. I even list my profession as Renaissance Woman because I’m not sure what I am. Radio DJ? Jazz Singer? Author? Blogger? Chef? Dog Walker? I’m pretty sure my presence on LinkedIn has got me exactly zero jobs and I don’t even remember the last time I updated my stats.
However in the past few weeks I’ve received a multitude of notes congratulating me on my “work anniversary.” Apparently my little radio gig is now 16 years old (and I’m damned appreciative of that!). The weird thing is these notes all say virtually the same thing – “Congratulations on your work anniversary. Hope you’re well.”
The first time I’m thinking “Nice.” The second time I’m thinking “How odd is that?” The tenth time I’m like “What the heck?”
Because all I can wonder is – Do you really? Do you really care if I am well or not? I’m pretty sure if you did you’d call up or email or stop by and say “Hey Vic, are you well?” But no. Via this oddly business-like and impersonal site I get standardized felicitations and a question that truly begs no answer.
Well … I call bullshit.
Because in the interest of connecting with abandon I do believe it behooves us to abandon that type of interaction in favour of something more, shall we say, meaningful. Personal. Exclusive. Significant.
One of my salutations came from a musician I know (vaguely), someone whose new record I recently had the pleasure of reviewing. And yes, there it was. “Congratulations on your work anniversary. Hope you’re well.” I’ll tell you I was a lot disappointed and a little pissed. Because I spent a few hours on that review and he took a whole second to hit send when the website reminded him. So what did I do? Normally I would just delete but for the first time in my history I actually called someone out. I replied. I thanked him but then asked him how he would feel if I had just phoned in that review? Done a generic grease job. If I just didn’t actually care enough to make it real and make it count?
He apologized. Because he truly is a lovely man.
I had other greetings from people I have never met, former colleagues and one even from a has-been (or maybe he is a still-is I have no idea) music biz mogul to whom I have reached out (about my son’s music) and who has conveniently ignored me until now when for whatever ridiculous reason he decided to send me the generic crap.
I suppose I should be grateful and you’ll probably tell me to shut up and count my blessing. And I suppose I could.
But instead I am going to call Bullshit!
Because I think we can all do better. We can all make it personal. We can all take a little more time out of our crazy-busy lives to make someone else count. Let’s work a little harder at being authentic with one another. Because I know for a fact that when someone is authentic with me – and it’s personal – it means the world.
Express gratitude. Send congratulations. Wish Happy Birthdays and celebrate occasions and keep it simple if you like but make it substantial. Make it YOU, not some computer-generated platitude. Banality is boring. And you don’t want to be though of as boring, do you?
Yesterday, soon after I posted my blog, I received a note from a woman who is a fan of my ramblings. I usually feel I am writing to the ether so when she comments and compliments I am over the moon. Her note yesterday just about brought me to tears because it made me feel like I was connecting. Getting through. To real live people, not just ether. She made me feel magnificent! She made me feel significant. Because there was no bullshit.
This one is for you, Corina …