I’ve written about social media and how authentic, person-to-person communication is irreplaceable, even by Skype, tweeting, texting and Facebook albums.
9/11 reminds me of another kind of connection we sometimes actually avoid. We often go out of our way to avoid painful feelings. We don’t want to watch the TV today, because we will relive and feel rather than remember.
To actually feel is to be intimately connected, and frankly, it’s hard to be intimately connected with pain. We don’t know what to do with it. Daniel Goleman in his book, “Social Intelligence” talks about how we are wired through mirror neurons to feel together, to experience empathy. Sometimes we would rather avoid empathy.
I work with families of kids with chronic illness. Often parents of children with serious illness find themselves isolated, because friends withdraw. It may be due to so many factors: not knowing what to say, feeling helpless at not knowing what to do, perhaps the intuitive sense that this will put them in touch with the vulnerability and fragility of their own families. Sometimes friends may blame the parents: “If they only set better limits/didn’t push so hard/followed this diet, this wouldn’t have happened.” This is a way of hanging onto the sense that if we do the right things, bad things don't happen.