Monday, April 15, 2013

How To Keep Relationships Real in a Virtual World

Last week I spoke about the power and comfort of old friends. This week I want to introduce you to Marin (Miriam), a new friend. 

We first met 2 years ago. I remembered her clearly, but she couldn't place me when I came across her again on my most recent vacation.  Her graciousness and warmth reminded me why my previous experience meeting her had been so positive.....

The necklace I bought 2 years ago from Marin
Marin is a jewellery designer and has a stall in the craft market in Tel Aviv. She came with her parents from the Ukraine as a child and excelled in gymnastics. She taught physical education in a high school, but her true love was designing and she began to design and make clothes. The problem with clothing, she explained, was that by the time a buyer had asked her to change the pockets or collar or shape of the sleeve, it wasn't really "hers" anymore. This led Marin to necklace,watch,bracelet and earring design and her successful store. I told her how much positive feedback I had had about my first necklace and was excited to choose another. 

How do I know all this about her? Because she took the time to get to know me, ask me questions about my family and about colors, styles and lengths I liked. And I, in turn asked her about her life journey to the present day. 

By the time I had gathered my bounty we had chatted for an hour, taken photographs together and discussed what a pleasure it had been to get to know each other as I browsed. 

When I had bought my first necklace from her 2 years ago, I remembered how special I thought it was, that I had met the person who had made this beautiful piece and who had adjusted and wrapped and sold it to me. She had been vested in the process from beginning to end. 

This time we created a connection, more solid and it started me thinking about the power of building authentic relationships.

In this crazy 21st century, we are overwhelmed with technological choices. Teachers and parents and child development experts are lamenting the changes in the ways in which we and our children communicate. There has been much written about the lost art of conversation as tweens and teens text, email and FB chat instead of picking up the phone or having a face to face conversation. In amongst all this, I think building authentic relationships has become even more precious and important. 

With billions of news sources, articles, stories and email messages vying for our attention. 

How do we choose who to respond to?

Who do we give our time to ? 

Who do we retweet, repost on Facebook,  recommend via Linkedin and form closer ties with at a more personal level?

 I think we can find an answer to this through the people behind these messages. The ones who have taken the time to form a relationship with us. 

The individuals who have asked about our families as well as making a business transaction. The ones who have supported us through tough moments as well as asking us for a favor. The people who follow through  and provide feedback and support on an on going basis, so that when we recommend them as a plumber, coach, therapist, jeweler, teacher, blogger, accountant or doctor, we are recommending them based on their skills AND their integrity. 

Now that I am immersed in the world of Facebook, Twitter and the blogosphere, I have found that rather than being bogged down in the technological jungle, I am buoyed up by using these tools as an efficient, easy, accessible way to encourage, nurture and support these relationships. 

Living far away from my home country,  in a time zone five, seven or even 12 hrs different from all these people, Facebook and email have  been a wonderful way to stay connected with family and faraway friends.

And twitter has allowed me to get to know many of you, whom I have never met in person but would love to one day. 

We have already started to create authentic relationships using the twitter tool. Electronics can enhance relationships and conversation, if used as one medium of many rather than alone. Perceiving these on-line accounts as a means to better one-on-one relationships, changes the way we view the use of technology. 

Here are a few of the many fabulous people I have "met" via Twitter and am glad to call my friends:-
  • Lynn: the founder of who lives in Austin Texas but grew up in Rockville Maryland and spent time living 20 mins away from me in the UK! ( What are the chances of that??) @caregivingcafe 
  • Debbie: a Boston Globe health journalist, who I actually discovered, after many tweets, lives just 20 mins away. @debkotz2. (I am very happy to say I have met Debbie in person now!) 
  •  @TNNME: a trigeminal neuralgia sufferer in Cambridge Mass who is managing a global campaign to persuade the WorldHealth organization to add this terrible disease to their health topic list.
  • Alli: a Coach and employee engagement champion in Australia who is a DC native. @AlliPollin
  • Lisa: a homeschooling mom of 3 & a creative clothing designer & blogger who lives in DC @squishablebaby
  • Shira, an elementary school principal and mom in Westchester, NY @shiraliebowitz
 These are global twitter friends with whom I have made authentic connections but haven't met face to face. (Yet!)

And as for Marin? We are able, thanks to modern technology to further our connection as Facebook friends. I discovered that last week, she wrote a beautiful piece about our meeting (in Hebrew)  and posted pictures of our experience on her Facebook Page. You can read her comment and my reply  here
If you want to connect with her, please go to her Facebook page, say hi from me and enjoy her creations for yourself or buy something for someone else with whom you have a beautiful relationship. ( She will ship internationally!)

Have a good week developing the relationships that really matter to you! 

Please leave a comment and  tell me about a friendship that blossomed via on line connectivity.


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  1. Dear Gilly,
    Getting to know you has been one of the most precious gifts I've received in engaging in social media. I do consider us to be friends who have not yet met and I look forward to the day that we will. As I prepare for a transition to a new position in a new school, I am thinking quite a bit about ways of nurturing positive, appreciative relationships, taking the time to get to know those in my new school; their strengths, talents, and aspirations - learning to look at the world through the lens of positivity and to finding ways to deliberately build on strength. Your optimistic perspective, seeing blessing even in challenge, is a source of tremendous support to me. Thank you for the mention in this beautiful post. I am honored.

    1. Shira,
      it's a pleasure. I am so glad to have met you on-line and l am looking forward to meeting you in person in the near future. DC-NY is doable right?

      Good luck in your new job as Head Of School. I'm excited to hear all about it. if you give your staff a fraction of the encouragement and feedback you have given me, they will be be very lucky!


  2. Gilly,
    If not for the wonders of your Blog we never would have met, first on line & later in person. Who knew I'd meet someone with so much in common, from such different backgrounds, over the internet, only to find you right down the road from me! Now I am blessed to call you my friend! Keep doing what you do, with the amazing grace that is you!


    1. Thank you for your beautiful message Cyndi. It's amazing that you are so close by. You are quite the inspiration yourself! Looking forward to seeing you in a few days.

  3. Dear Gilly:

    What a lovely post! Thank you for including me! I am delighted and amazed at how our paths have crossed - and how we lived so close to each other! Funny, this cyberworld... or is it Destiny? I hope that we can meet one day in the not too distant future. I'll get out my best scone recipe to bring you a little bit of home...and a hug (no recipe needed)! All best wishes, Lynn

    1. Lynn,
      You are very welcome. I love to tell the story of how our paths may have crossed without us even knowing it Then we "meet' through twitter and find we both have a commitment to improving the quality of life for caregivers. Thank you for sharing your warmth, humor and expertise. I can't wait to have tea and scones with you and give you a hug. In the meantime i will continue to enjoy our twitter friendship.

  4. Dear Gilly,
    Wow, I'm so excited. The launch of this story so much of your time.
    It came out great and charming.I pre-apologize for my dictating
    English is not my language.
    I really wanted the whole world to know how beautiful and good person you.
    You made me a wonderful morning, not even a full day of heat heart
    And I'm so glad foundations and building companies in the real world and the virtual world gives us even more the compromises to recognize.

    With great enthusiasm


    1. Marin -You are very welcome. I so enjoyed meeting you and I really love your beautiful creations. It is a bonus that we can continue to keep in touch via Facebook even though we are continents apart. Please feel free to write to me in Hebrew. Together with my basic knowledge , Jonny's great grasp of the language and google translate, I will work out what you are saying! Good luck and let me know when you create a new design!

  5. Gilly,

    It has been such a pleasure to connect with you! I was in Israel when I was 16 and following your journey has opened my children up to stories of when I was there many years ago.

    I love Social Media not because of the ease of broadcasting but how it has helped to facilitate real connections that I now value! That comes from more than a RT here and there but taking the time to connect and engage.

    I'm hoping that when I come home to DC in a few years I'll have the pleasure of meeting you in person!



    1. Alli -You are an expert at facilitating real connections and I got to benefit from that. You may be in Australia but your warmth, makes it feel as though you are right next door! I would love to meet when you come to DC. In the meantime thanks for reading Brainstorm. I'm glad the posts about Israel inspired you to share your Israel trip with your kids. I'd love to hear some of them when you have time.

  6. You are truly amazing Gilly! It seems like I say that daily.

    You are so right. While the twitter/facebook relationships helps me to meet people that I wouldn't have normally met (like your for instance) I think there is something to be said for picking up the phone and speaking with someone. Just hearing voices and connecting.

    I cherish knowing you and many of the people I met on Twitter, on Facebook and blogging. I look forward to meeting everyone and getting to know people better.

    I don't text much - as I find it annoying. I just need to take the time (like I dedicate time to blogging, or sewing, or whatever - to pick up the phone and talk.

  7. Hi Lisa,
    Very kind of you to say! I agree phone or face-to- face is best but social media can definitely maintain and enrich friendships in-between those opportunities. When my husband was sick , social media was such a bonus because I didn't have the time or energy for a long conversation, but I loved reading the messages. Used in the right way, I think social media is a net plus in our lives -particularly as I facilitates meeting people like you!