Monday, June 19, 2017

Death: just as scary at 82 as at 28

Some people (who are not me) find it hard to be optimistic in the light of recent events. I mean, let's face it, the kinds a stuff coming out of the news these days are just not encouraging. A news outlet, like the one I try to work on, that covers good news and uplifting stories, is struggling more often than not finding things to talk about. But well, I can't help it, I love this particular life right now and want to have the best time with it. When I am then confronted with stories, in which people wake up to be burning alive in their house, I can't help to spend more than my average two minutes on the thought that it could be over any minute. Literally. Nobody is ready for death but would my life be taken too early if I dropped right now? The answer to this question also goes hand in hand with why it's just so important to not think about how to live life all the time.

I am 100% not ready for death. Who is, ever? Yet some people actually do life-threatening things, and I don't mean going to Borough Market on a Saturday Night. I have many friends in the forces, saw this story of a torero today and then, of course, that guy Baumgartner who jumped from space to land in a small net on Earth. So, I can only assume that these people are quite possibly less scared of death than I am. Why, I don't know. Maybe faith. I was less scared of it when I was dead-certain Jesus was waiting for me on the other side. It consoles me knowing that some people who went too early (or even in due time) said goodbye to this life in good faith there's another waiting. But even if there is, my fear of death persists. The next life, if it exists, might not have the sun, or ice cream, or some of the people I love so much. And that would be scary.

Being a pretty brave person, there's not many things that really do scare me, but death is definitely on the list. Everybody has dreams and we all wanna see them come to life before we bow out. Me on the other hand, I wouldn't really know what these dreams are. At some points in life, I thought it'd be procreation, but I am certain now that my life will continue to fulfill me if I don't have children. Getting my PhD won't make a difference over whether I'm gonna die happy or not either. If I died tomorrow, I'd die happy although my dream of being 90 did not come true. And this might be the result of living a life in the smartest way possible. It's smart because it works: I'm happy! It's because, after years and years of working on it, I have stopped expecting, assessing and thinking about what's right. I do what makes me happy at the time in the hope it will continue to make me happy. Nothing probably will. Like myself, the things to make me happy will change, too.

That's why I am looking back at a catalog of decisions I know for a fact other people wouldn't have made. I did wrong things, stupid things, and things that would disappoint people, but in the end, the only judgement I really have to worry about is my own. So if I die tomorrow, and someone else may judge me, I may lose a few points but I made it to this day with, I feel, the best life I could have lived with the cards that were given to me. I was dealt a very fair hand, and I truly believe I couldn't have played it any better. At some points, the cards sucked, of course, but one could argue it just made me a better player. But I did 21 right, I'm doing 28 well, and hopefully, I'll get a few more to try. Fact is, at the end of the day (or all days), I will, whenever it is, have found a way to maximize the time I got.

Of course, if I die now, I won't get to experience parenthood (which is sad), I would never be a dog mamma (which is sad) and it'd just be a pity for all the things I'm no doubt gonna have fun with, but it wouldn't be too early. Because for what was available, the time was used well, and not thinking about the possibility of dying. I don't like to think about what I do; the only thought worth thinking is: will I have that chance again? So my fear of death makes me live the way I do, not thinking about tomorrow, doing whatever I want because it might be the last chance to do any given thing. So far, it's worked out for me. Despite all the weird things I've done, I have no regrets, it all worked out. And when I die, I'm sure it'll be sick, but I hope I can look back and say "way to go, that could have been way worse, Sina!". 

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

100 Days of Cambridge: Love it or Hate it?


"The first 100 days“ is a thing. We all know that. What applies to presidents definitely applies to us normal folk as well. When we embark on a new path, the first 100 days are just as formative as they are in a presidential term. And so, I have now finished my first 100 days in Cambridge. I have relocated enough times to know that sentiments gathered in the initial honeymoon period have a way of corroborating longer into the stay. My first 100 days in Scotland was the happiest time of my life thus far, which ended up being the happiest period of my life all together. In addition, my beginnings in Cairo were the hardest 100 days of my life, equally setting precedents for what would become the most challenging two years of my life for probably the remainder of it. So where does Cambridge, England tie into this? I think I can see a direction… 

100 days were enough to realize that it is not what I had expected. I, of course, didn’t expect Scotland but I did think it would be a bit of a homecoming anyways. At least, I thought, it will be more Scottish than German, and with that I was wrong. England indeed isn’t Scotland and that’s a shame. There are aspects to this that are obviously less dramatic than others are, like the drinking and the lack of acceptable fish & chips in all of Cambridge, but there are the people. And that part is different. The English have a global reputation I would like to dismiss; more often than not, I have found so far, the English really are very polite and proper, but emotionally not very far-ranging. For a person like me, that is a challenge.

Additionally, I expected a student town with lots of public debate, drunk intellectuals and the diversity that comes with a university. Well, not around here. I suppose with a price tag like the one at the University of Cambridge, also known as the finest institution of higher education on this entire continent, sometimes in the world, it is a given that the majority of these kids are born into privilege. They are also overwhelmingly white or Asian. The fact this university has various colleges which equal the likes of Gryffindor and Hufflepuff in the Harry Potter universe, exclusivity is obviously a thing. Whether it’s their fancy dinners they are having in their great halls, wearing dress robes on a weeknight, or a debate about politics, engagement with “the world that is out there” is completely optional and not very encouraged. In that world, the rest of the world likely won’t have to matter anyways.

But now that I’ve pointed out my disappointment, this argument has to take a course. Although these parts of life have panned out differently than expected, the first 100 days have unveiled a large amount of positivity. Sure, the novelty is wearing off, I’m getting more bored by the day, but the prospect of staying here for further hundreds of days is a pleasant one. I was lucky to be spared the fight for friends in a new country once again because enough people I already befriended in the past ended up here or share a kitchen with me. The only downside to the quick but good connections I was able to make is that most of them are linked to another individual as part of a relationship. As a result, even when surrounded by people my age, I sometimes feel a bit old. I consider myself absolutely too young to think about “forever” and am flabbergasted that in this country so many people my age have already committed to it.

The beauty of Cambridge has so many faces, though. Sure, it’s easy to see when walking by the Cam river, watching the rowers coast by meadows hosting cows, or the stunning colleges. For me, however, this experience is so much more. The most beautiful part, to me, is being in my cozy flat, knowing that I am conducting an independent lifestyle free from many of the worries that have at times made my life rather ugly. My achievements, my money, my decisions. And for once I have various freedoms that allow me to make them. Most people my age have the desire to feel satisfied with what they have shaped their life to be, and for me it’s the essence of happiness knowing that the many, many sacrifices I made throughout my life have provided me with a living situation much better than what I even thought possible for a girl like me. Meanwhile, I need the beauty to remind me that I deserve none of this but have to enjoy it while I can. My first 100 days have started to uncover that beauty, and I’m truly curious to see what else surfaces in the coming hundreds…

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

When there's a snap election, and the "Greens" invite you to campaign...

Interesting things have unfolded this month and mamma's been busy. I have a job that keeps me in the loop and a personality that doesn't allow me to leave that loop, so when the snap election was called I knew my life would momentarily succumb to news, news and news. And looky, it somehow happened. Now, I don't need to write about the snap election too much, yet, I live in Brexitland, governed by a lady who vowed to definitely, absolutely not call a snap election. And here we are, 9 days away from the snap election not even a year after the Brexit vote, and this country is going to choose this woman to lead them. Fine, I wouldn't, but cool. No such thing as a bad experience, right? Gotta learn somehow...

That's exactly what I told myself when I was offered to support the Green Party campaigning in Bristol this past holiday weekend. First of all, politics is my hobby, so a political trip is the epitome of time well spent for me. And second, I have a lot of learning to do when it comes to both a campaign and British party politics. With less than a day to prepare, I found myself behind the wheel to drive to Bristol on early Saturday morning to stay with complete strangers, walking from door to door, chatting about Green policies. Sounds like a normal thing to do? Sure, maybe, only I didn't know much about the Green Party, the terminology of a campaign and, well, my now slightly more foundational criticism of Green policies turned out to make that job a little harder than anticipated.

The people greeting us in Bristol were incredibly nice. Lord knows I love green people, I even like vegans although I'm not vegan, like environmentalists although one could argue my economic policies wouldn't put them first and prefer hanging out with lefties that teach me about positive energy and the "law of attraction". All these facts perish in my persona that appears to more of a slightly annoying Barbie than someone who wants to change the planet. That kind of vibe, that kind of people and that kind of ideology flies better with me than the one I've been constantly around since childhood: spoiled rich kids that think they deserve anything at all. I could happily have stayed in Bristol forever, gatecrashing on the vegan fun and just being altogether accepting of all kinds of people, shapes, and ideologies. Yet, there was still a campaign to run...

While the people conducting this incredible effort were fantastic, without exception, I was on the wrong campaign trip. I accepted I had come along to support the Green Party, so I didn't sabotage, but on day two I opted for a less necessary job than knocking on people's door, talking to them about the Green Party. Firstly, with little more than a day to prepare one could argue I wasn't the best to speak to people with questions, and secondly, if I was speaking from my heart I would have been saying other things. I found it hard to sell an ideology I didn't share, thus making a very fundamental experience; a friend of mine who once ran campaigns, or at least always claimed he did, often referred to his ability to run campaigns for the Republican Party while he himself wouldn't vote for them. As of this experience, I know that I can only stand behind politics if I do stand behind them. I'm a spotlight person, I can't be pulling the strings.

Additionally, I just don't believe in the Green Party manifesto. Would I vote for the Green Party over the existing government? Sure. Would I choose them out of all parties? Hell no. I didn't agree with some points so much so that my selfish desire to come to Bristol to really get to know the Green Party was fulfilled, only that it didn't capture me. The analogy that comes to mind, as always, is that of love. I've been around many fantastic people, good-looking people, smart people, and overall just massive catches. But that wasn't gonna work out. They were great, I appreciated their traits, but for a working relationship, I didn't need their traits. I like a pacifist because I oppose war, but for my kind of relationship, a pacifist can get to f***. It would never work. And that's how I feel about the Green Party: I would love to live in a world that needs this response, I just don't think I do.

And so I spent the day trying to help the Green Party run a successful campaign by resources, folding letters, handing them out, and being the administrative gem I could be. I just wasn't able to be more than that. Now we don't know if I could have pulled it off for any other party but I couldn't for this one. I did, however, experience companionship, a wonderful set of people, and politically learned more about the Green Party than I could have from a point of opposition. I even sat in a circle, on the grass, with a cuppa, with their national leader Jonathan Bartley, all while having no idea who he was because, ya know, everyone is the same. They really don't joke about that, and I love it. So my bottom line is that I wanna hang out with the Green Party but I don't want to vote for them. But since I don't vote in this ridiculous election, I guess we don't even have to have that conversation...

Monday, May 1, 2017

And then "boom"... I was in love!

I try never to look at how people look or what they do. Their mannerisms and appearance are a product of education or DNA. Chances are that any of these factors have no influence on whether this person is "for me". I keep talking about those first two minutes when you first meet a person when you decide whether they deserve a chance or not. If they're good looking, the chance appears more likely. If they smile, you're more likely to want to befriend them. And if they caught a bad day, we may walk away from them forever because we decided they suck although they could have ended up our best friend. This behavior is inevitable but foolish. I try to stay away from it. Recently I have made experiences helping me to really understand how.

During my time at Amazon so far, I have made the first contact with most of my colleague over the phone. I was interviewed off-site and then started the position in a different office from the one I am now based in. Hence, my first 2 mins with most of my colleagues were devoid of evaluations of their appearance, whether they smiled at me politely or if they possibly come off as rude. All I heard was a voice, coincidentally the medium I now work on creating. But: the judgment still had to be made. The first one I met in my interview had a beautiful voice. I suppose a voice like that makes one more appealing to people who talk to them but without having seen the guy, I felt good. I thought we hit it off. It took another few weeks until I actually met him but I did realize this was probably the first time I felt like I hit it off with a person I hadn't even seen yet. Also helped that he was offering me a job...

All my other colleagues then proceeded to introduce themselves to me in phone calls or an email. Now I had words in front of me on which I was to judge whether I would "like" these people. Lord knows I like way too many people so it wasn't a question of whether I would befriend them or not because I knew I would anyways, but who these people were without knowing. In these cases, sharpening the instincts is easier because appearances and mannerisms don't cloud the judgment. I now had to go with the gut, assess whether that eye inside saw something in these people. If my inner eye doesn't see anything that is far from being a bad thing. I just happen to believe that two awesome people won't just naturally click because they're awesome. Same goes for bad people. What's important is that it clicks, and if it does or not has nothing to do with appearance and mannerism but merely the ability of person A to flip the switch to person B. If they can, one knows within 2 minutes.

The day I properly met the guy in high school I would later hold on to for 11 years was not the first time I had seen him. He had in fact been sitting next to me in 'Government' and despite his bright orange jacket I had not "seen" him. The first time he spoke to me, that was the first instance of "Boom" I remember. It wasn't a romantic reaction then, but I just thought he was awesome. He wasn't awesome; in fact, he was sorta geeky, not in a good way. It got worse from there, eventually becoming very hurtful, and people scratched their heads left right and center why I think this guy was worth it. But he was. To me. Probably not very many others. I have yet to find an explanation. Another time, I was working with a dude who was in a foul mood when I first saw him. His pissed off attitude ruined most people's first impression; he seemed to be a negative, miserable dude. I didn't even talk to him but somehow thought he'd be cool. No idea why. Four months later, we were put on a team, properly meeting, and hit it off big time. The inner eye saw it; I refuse to believe it was the upside down smile it saw... 

In a way, I'm saying there is love at first sight, only that it's not "love" but something we see in some people and fail to see in others. I have talented, good-looking, awesome men around me, and I'm not in love with them. Why? Lord knows. Meanwhile, I had irrational crushes on people "far below my league" or who don't really suit me. All because certain radars inside of me picked up their frequency. And of course, this applies to female connections as well. Miriam, Claire, Anna and Lorna, my best female friends I wasn't born with, were instant connections, I dug them after two minutes if that. I booked a holiday with Anna after knowing her for less than 20 minutes. I knew we'd be friends. I can't even explain to myself why I like the people I like and I don't want to either. It's exciting to meet people and watch it happening when it does, it just usually doesn't. And then, when it does, it's easy to make that feeling "love" because as a foundation chemistry works preeeetttty well...

In the last few weeks that I have, once again, been unleashed on a new city where I don't know very many people, I could see the progress I've made. I ripped myself of tools of assessment and, cheesily speaking, let the heart see. That's also why online dating can be a tool, but never the reason. It's "boom" or no boom, and exterior things have no impact on that. I am craving human friendships (and dog friendships, too) and good connections as much as the next girl does so it is hard for me to accept that not everyone will automatically be a great addition, even if they're great people altogether; it's inevitable, though. This search for the "right" people rather than the "best" people is tiring and determines whether this Cambridge thing will become a success or not. That causes pressure and pressure doesn't help. It is a relief, however, to know that timing, mood and appearances will not affect a connection; they just affect the outcome of where that connection could go... 

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Why I Feel Brexit Is Taking My "Home" Away From Me

An entire year I dedicated to writing stories about refugees. I have no fight to fight with refugees being assimilated in my or other countries, and for a person (without a heart) looking on from afar it would be hard to gather why I'd bother at all. To be honest, I don't really know myself. Sure, I'd call myself a compassionate person that has an emotional reaction to watching scenes from Aleppo but why do I care about foreigners coming to Europe, feeling welcome, getting the same opportunities as me, when even an American wouldn't be able to? We're all human, after all. Why does one count more than the other? I've always known the answer to these questions, and most people in my generation do, too. As of this year, I have one more: I actually lived in a place that doesn't like foreigners... as a foreigner.


Is this really how we wanna see things?

You might have an immediate reaction to what I just said. Frankly, if you don't, that's fucked up. I'm a white girl, educated, no record, and interested in actually taking part in this society, including its values. Well, yeah! That much is true. Me as a German and them as the English does not make a difference if you look at our hobbies: beer and football. We also all like Jesus, I guess. We also all hate ISIS. No biggie then, I'm welcome. Even if I am, that's not what it feels like. I have not been disrespected as a foreigner in this country even once, including the four magical years I spent in the union's other gem, Scotland. Yet, not even a year ago, the people of this country voted for the doors to shut. I won't accept any other explanation. Brexit is nothing, and I mean it, nothing but a shutting of a door. Unfortunately, I feel like I'm on the other side.

I love the UK, have been nothing but happy and fortunate here but I cannot shake the feeling of no longer being welcome to try here. It's easy enough to be said by a German whose alternative is going back to possibly the best-shaped country out there but I see myself as a foreigner, not a German here. The day Brexit voters shut the doors for foreigners from Eastern Europe and the Middle East because they came to exploit them is the day I perceived the door to be shut for me, too. The choice they made, for whatever reason, was to stop cooperation. Any decision that goes hand in hand with stopping cooperation would, for me, be out of the question. But not for the majority of England and Wales. At that moment, I had no intention of coming back to the UK, but then I did, thinking that it'd be interesting to be a part of the change that's inevitably coming. Yeah, not so fun...

Maybe it really is the fact that I still perceive myself, and most likely always will, as an EU citizen before anything else, and for the longest time I was, therefore, "home" in this country. It's not quite as dramatic as being French in Alsace-Lorraine and then suddenly, well, you're not anymore. But that is what it is: my home decided it no longer wants to have me. Rejection of any kind is not a nice feeling but the people around me, for whatever reason, have decided I am in fact wrong to call this place home. It's home to the British, not me. Let's not even get into the blog post that is inevitably coming about why I am not British. I am German, I like being German, and as of now, that's what I will be here because clearly, EU citizenship means nothing to people here. It still does to me.

It's hard to predict the future. It always was, but now more so than ever. I don't know where I, personally, will be in the next few years. Come Brexit, I might not even be able to stay in the UK. However, it is hard to believe that if children are ever going to be part of my future, I would like for them to grow up here. I always thought this was the country I would like to let the roots grow a little bit, but I cannot imagine this political situation to be a sustainable environment for the child I would like to raise, nevermind the next government for me to enjoy myself. I still believe in the EU and its values, and I would want my child to grow up to be as proud of the amazing work that's coming out of that institution as I am. For many people, it is possible to live in a country that does not politically reflect who they are. For me, it is not.

Scotland, my favorite country, might actually try again to be part of the EU, and from my experience, it doesn't actually mean that much to people. If Germany left the EU, I would not accept it. I would rather be part of the EU than a union that has brought me nothing but oppression for centuries. The fact that Scots think political representation is secondary to economic prosperity is understandable but, ultimately, an opinion I don't share. If Scotland became independent and was applying to come "home" to us, I would be personally involved, I vow it. There is a place where we can sit together and make multilateral decisions. They are obviously not always 100% as good as a unilateral decision but have we never learned anything from John Nash: "let's do what's best for us AND the group" because we benefit if others do, too. Where has this gone? It's no longer here, and I maybe, neither will I come 2019. 

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

I Would Walk 500 Miles... And Not Regret It!

Sometimes effort and success are not even slightly connected. Sometimes we try for months, with no success, and the feeling of "it's just not meant to be" creeps up. Other times, we don't try and are given ten times more than what we expected to be possible. My high school BFF told me on the phone a few weeks after I left the US that he'd fallen in love a girl he didn't even know three weeks earlier - another three months later, they had married. "When you know, you know", they said back then. Their search wasn't long, neither of them tried very hard, but a resulting marriage was absolutely unavoidable. They also happen to be the perfect couple, so everything looks like they just lucked out. So the impression I get is that it doesn't really matter how long that search takes; some things just sort of work out. Knowing all this, I sometimes wonder why people even try...

When I talk about trying, I don't just mean relationships. Effort, as a term, is getting more and more negative in connotation, and I'm starting to believe it might not be a good thing anymore. I am a true believer in things being easy if they're right, and right does not mean "The One", but right... correct... good to exist. When I try to befriend somebody, I'd say that's a pretty good thing. The same goes for giving someone a call I want to speak to. Or working hard on an assignment. Making a difference. Giving someone flowers. There are a lot of examples of putting effort into somebody or something and what I find in most cases is that it's not just a waste of time, it's also perceived as a bad thing. I'm happy to talk about this more.

I try hard with people, jobs and skills. I try to improve, try to be nice, try to communicate, and in the end, I'm tired and end up with nearly the same result I would have ended up with not trying. Putting effort into people, trying to make them feel good or anything of that sort isn't a waste; what I mean is that when something is right, that effort isn't necessary. I'm trying to befriend people in a new city right now and I'm happy to make the effort. Even if I don't end up friends with everyone, I enjoy being nice, trying to get to know people, it's not unnecessary.  Recently I've had the thought repeatedly when a co-worker was slagging me for trying to befriend him. He's my co-worker, like I'm the only one benefitting, right? My experience when doing this in the past, though, was that when I had good chemistry with people, friendship was a natural consequence of me being myself. I talked to most of my close friends for less than five minutes before knowing they'd actually be my friends. "When you know, you know". Not just with people you may marry...

Making an effort with people is fun to me and I'll never not try, yet, I need to abandon the thought in my head that sometimes things are worth the fight. Those who want me in their lives have my number, I'd never not pick up. That's the formula and everyone knows it. The inspirational quote that tells us not to fight for someone who's not worth it is incorrect; it's not wrong to do that, it just shouldn't be needed. Because those things that are comfortable, right and "meant to be" will be easy. I don't have to convince anybody to be with or around me. The door is open, most of the times all it takes is picking up the phone or answering my call. People who are trying to befriend me are lucky because I am happy to be the person who calls. Frankly, if I wasn't, some of my best friends wouldn't be in my life, and not because they don't want to be but because too many people think they're too occupied to invest effort into people...

Conor and Philipp, my two best friends of the opposite sex, have rarely ever called me. I love them, but they forget me. Oh well, two choices: I could be upset and never call them again, hence lose them, or suck it up. So I call them. When they answer though, I know they are as happy about talking to me as I am about talking to them. My effort is appreciated, and there goes that, we continue to be friends even after a decade. Being friends with these boys is super easy, it never seems hard, and I genuinely just enjoy it because I know they feel the same about it. The complete opposite of that is making an effort and getting nothing in return: feeling like the effort isn't even appreciated. I don't want to do that anymore, but I will. And trust me, trying hard for someone, even making myself look stupid just to give people and chances a last ditch effort, and getting nothing in return, is really fucking hard and disappointing. When I try, even when it seems too late, and I don't get a response (or even worse), even a tough person like me is feeling a little fragile about that. It's not nice...

I'm pretty happy to walk 500 miles but let's face it, a mile should do it... 13 at the very most!

I know I can't force stuff (didn't always know that... whoops!) but trying is a good thing. Whether, as a result to my effort, friendship or an opportunity or love blossoms, however, I have absolutely no power over. Heck, I even ended up with the job I thought I had no shot with and hence tried much less for than the other ones. I tried hard for people in the past with no success and I ended up with people I didn't try for. There is no logic to this equation so really putting in an effort is just a luxury I have and enjoy doing. And if someone would like to do the same for me, they're welcome to. The truth is, as much as i would like to tell people publicly here that I am done giving people the opportunity to reciprocate my effort or trying to make something happen that clearly isn't going to, I just don't feel like that is the right way. Duh, I will try texting someone once or twice, if they don't respond I'll get the message, but I am proud to be a person who appreciates and tries for people, chances and changes. And in the end I feel like I won't regret it. I tried. 

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

How Social Media Has NOT Ruined Us

"Before we had Facebook and Snapchat, we actually talked to people". Ergh, this sentence makes me mad. Some people are stuck between being a millennial and a baby boomer, and it's not a great place to be. For some reason, the technological revolution that's been going on has people thinking that communication in person seems to no longer be possible. Back in the day, they say, it was playing outside, not the iPad. Or it was asking a girl out on a date instead of sending her a dick pic. I am from a generation that was fortunate to grow up right between the two, and so I played outside and have an iPad, went on actual dates and used a camera to "sext" (I just really like the word, can't say I'm an expert there). One thing is for sure: social media has definitely not destroyed my life. And definitely not my relationships.

Right now, I live in a city I know nobody in. If I only went by conventional ways, I'd know my three workmates and six flatmates. Instead, I was set up through Facebook with a girl my friend from Cairo knows, met a few people via Couchsurfing, found out that my actual former flatmate from Egypt lives in the same city, spend the weekends with friends I have from five different places in London and browse Instagram, keeping an eye on who is in London when so I can see them. Bottom line: in six weeks I was never alone! If I didn't glue myself to my cell phone I simply wouldn't know these people, or if they're here. Hence, there would be no communication. But social media hasn't just made it easy for me to make friends, it also allows me to stay friends. I haven't spoken to my good friends in California in years, but I always know what's up. There's no way I'd have more than two friends if I had to speak to them in person to stay connected since living in five countries over the past decade made that one kinda hard...

Of course, our network has become a bubble, and not a day goes by on which that's not being criticized. That argument is so lame I wonder how it causes so much friction. I don't hang out with Tories in my free time in person either, and I certainly don't hang out with Nazis. What I see on my news feed is as much a representation of the things I want to see as the life I have built around me in person. In many ways, the internet even allows me to see the lives of others I'd never be interested in, giving me insights about people I know nothing about. Tories, for example. I couldn't care less about befriending a pro-life creationist who dislikes Muslims, but since they're on Twitter, sharing away, I may get a bit of information on how they turned out to be such crappy people. There's no way I'd pursue that in person. I see the news that makes people I appreciate open their eyes, and in real life, I'd do the same; trust my friends' judgment, exchanging what I think.

My friendships and careers have very visibly benefitted, and dating-wise we're probably nearing a billion Tinder babies soon. I mean, who even meets people in a conventional way anymore? A guy these days is 10 less likely to talk to a girl at a bar. Instead, he is 100 more likely to just swipe his phone and sees if she's in the radius. The alternative would be to just not talk anymore because we all know, men these days are pussies. Girls are no better. They portray themselves on social media as if the platform was the nectar that calls for the bees. It's today's calling card. I use it as an advantage, but only because I'm not scared to admit it. Times have changed, I go with it. I try to see it as an additional way to get in touch. The one and only time someone was confident enough to call me, and even more shocking, express that he liked me, I made him mine for two years. So although he is lame on social media and goes about communication in the "old-fashioned", clearly more authentic way, it all started with a friend request. It also allowed for us to continue speaking after I had left the country, which happened to all my human relationships at some point.

The only time social media was bad to me was when I learned of various infidelities or betrayals because people are sometimes just a bit too stupid to use it, or simply don't care. I was once in a sorta kinda relationship with a guy abroad, and suddenly there was this picture of him and a girl at a party, very visibly in love with him. The moment I saw that photo, I know me and him were over. He went on to date her and still is, so that turned out ok. Not so much another time, when another guy tried to "get me back", also abroad, via Facebook, telling me "the other girl means nothing and is sooo lame!" Next day, oh look, they're on a holiday together, checking out the sights, she took 10.000 selfies of them together. When you realize you're being shat on via social media, it would be nicer to just not being able to see what your boys are up to. Then again, if it hadn't been for Facebook I wouldn't have dated either one in the first place because both weren't man enough for anything but this nonsensical attempt at human interaction via social media, meaning other than a Facebook message they produced nothing of interest, in some cases for 12 years...

As a result, I suppose not everyone has matured with the new ways of communication. I remember when the guy I just mentioned called me after we had kissed the first time, on my phone, not drunk, and I felt like that was a major breakthrough. It really shouldn't be like that. I recently called my friend to meet him for lunch. American, very busy, usually abroad. He actually didn't pick up at first, then said "wow, calling, yeah, nobody does that anymore". Having said that, I don't even remember the last time someone answered my call on first attempt. I also had that thought last week when I realized that the other guy I just mentioned literally never spoke unless it was in a message he typed on his phone. That is obviously the sad downside: some people just didn't develop the necessary balls you need to face people, like literally face them. It was too easy to get away with this pseudo-communication that might be enough to stay in touch, but definitely not to stay connected. In retrospect, I don't feel like I knew either of these above-mentioned ex-lovers because I seldom ever spoke to them, like literally spoke. And while communication is easy, and I like writing, nothing transmits feelings like a spoken word, like literally spoken.

Times have changed, and we can whine about it or use it as an advantage. I think I'm achieving the latter quite well, using my social media platforms as political platforms as well as a personal promotion tool. Barely anyone speaks to me in person but I have a way to update them on my life, my views and my progress anyways. And if they like me, they'll consume it. If they like it a lot, they can even engage with it. With people being busier, living further apart and, also, caring less, that is simply the reality we are working with, and social media is the only weapon to tackle it with. So I do. And I try, just as much as I do in person, to transmit the feeling of caring, of appreciating and of pursuing a human relationship. What needs to change is not the tool but the willingness of people to use it. Even Facebook does calls, even Instagram allows you to follow. It is then up to the person behind the screen to make an effort with people. Just like in real life.