An internet friend (whom I’ve never met in person) sent me a message yesterday:

“…Though we’re separated by thousands of miles of land and water, I feel like you’re somebody who I’ve known, like a true friend…”

Later in the evening, our neighborhood held a ‘block party’ via Zoom (photo below). Not everyone attended, but of those who did, we laughed and told stories. One shared a poem and the other played a song. The 18 or so of us (none of whom I’ve ever met in person) all mingled for about an hour. Those living alone, and especially those quarantined for health reasons, had a chance to see faces and hear voices for the first time in weeks. Better yet, it gave us all an EXCUSE to interact with one another when we’d not done so before. As social as I am, it felt odd that all of the people on this call were folks that live within 4 blocks of us, and we’d never interacted, not in person or online. I know a ton of my neighbors, but none were on this call. Despite how difficult it is right now, with the stay-at-home and shelter-in-place declarations, to maintain any sort of social life, I’ve found laced within this ‘new interaction’, an abundance of curious opportunities. This has been quite enlightening!

This is the conclusion I’ve come to—not easily, might I add…

If we, as a society, are going to spend countless hours engaging with folks on the internet, then we ought to operate under the assumption that WE CAN MAKE DEEP CONNECTIONS THIS WAY.

Or, if we do not believe that, then we ought to give it up entirely.

Why would any intelligent person waste such a large portion of our life using online versions of communication if we knew, full well, that the end-game was at best shallow, meaningless, temporary banter? I’ve long been a skeptic of web-founded relationships, but what’s the alternative? Right now, there isn’t one.

This “Virus Life” as I’ve been calling it, is a great trial period to find out how deep we can go building relationships online — work, play, family, friends, debates, education, ideas, thoughts, news, entertainment.

Right now, we don’t have much of a choice—communicate online, or don’t communicate.

The aloneness could be a good thing for many people—TRUE.
It is not feasible/realistic that we suddenly go completely off-grid, not only for survival, but because that’s ‘what we really want’—also TRUE … otherwise we’d already have done that. We’ll need to make contact at some point, and you know what I usually say: Let’s make the best of it.

Mt. Botl — make the best of this life.

I’m climbing it every day.

My best friends, for the foreseeable future, are going to be online friends, and I’m not going to let my skepticism about the limitations digital of communication be what prevents me from building deep, lasting, meaningful relationships with them, because I believe that we can.

Cheers — raising my glass to many, but touching glasses with none.

About the Author Jakob Gollon

I have re-written this section countless times. This is the crisis of our generation, defining one's self in an 'about me' box knowing that 95% of our peers will log that as 'who we are' without ever speaking to us, because reading the long-version is just too cumbersome for our over-crowded, busy lives. // In short: I'm a polymath with a hyperactive mind, curious about and fascinated by the complexities of, basically, everything. I'm firmly committed to living a life of "areté"—omnipresent excellence, and my mottos are 'making the best of this life' (Mt. Botl), and "Do it now or forever wish you had". // I had a 'famed' basketball stint (captaining the 2014 Mercer team that upset Duke in NCAA Tourney + winning a Nat'l Title as a coach). I quit the sports industry all-together, cold turkey, soon after. I had an existential crisis with 'glory' and 'meaning' and other challenging thoughts revolving around how many hours (90+/week) I was spending trying to 'win games'. // Since 2017, I've been in pursuit of several entrepreneurial ideas and am educating myself on a few new areas of focus. The following is a condensed list of the countless curiosities and industries that I've explored, worked in, or studied the last 3 years (of which I will need to choose 1-3 of to focus on sooner than later). Writing, Podcasting, Teaching—Adjunct College Professor, Public Speaking + Workshops, Building & Construction, Sustainable Real Estate Development—Industrial + Urban Repurposing in particular, Negotiation, Marketing—Branding/design/communications, Woodwork, Gardening, Permaculture-based farming and homesteading, Psychology, Industrial Engineering—Process Improvement + UX consulting, Project Management, Renewable Energy, & Executive Coaching for (select) clients focusing on leadership, personal brand + career development, health habits, productivity, networking, and communication skills. Yes, all of it, and since I sleep minimally, and my mind races like an ostrich all day and night, I know a fair bit about each of those topics. I have an obsession with learning. I'm always looking to connect and have conversations with folks, so, hit me up. I hope my work brings you joy, value, a challenge, or a ripe perspective. Much love, Jakob

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