The company that we keep and people we meet through social media... By Sweta Vikram
I was in London two weeks ago. The weather was perfect—autumn nip in the air and skies with charming mood swing. I was working from London (but was working US Eastern time zone, which meant 1pm onwards) and had my mornings free to connect with other people in the world of writing and wellness. Between the politeness of the Londoners and easy access to wifi everywhere, it felt wonderful that I did not have to compromise on my office work or my personal time.
Prior to my visit, I reached out to a few women I had connected with over Twitter and Instagram in the last few years. They were therapists, journalists, columnists, coaches, acupuncturists, and entrepreneurs. Each one of them responded positively and expressed an interest in meeting up. Over the years, we have had deep and meaningful online conversations…sometimes over video chat; other times, over text. Hanging out in the real world seemed like a no-brainer next step.
One of the women was Priya Mulji, a senior columnist with Eastern Eye—Britain’s largest newspaper for Asian news. I had met with her in NYC last summer, and we hit it off right away and stayed in touch. Even with the other women, I realized that we all had one thing in common: love of words and wellness. We also shared our passion to make the world a better place while empowering women in the process. Each of them traveled at least 45 - 60 minutes each way and there was cognitive behavior therapist and acupuncturist, Mita Mistry, who had to travel 90 minutes one way!! I was bowled away with her generosity. For self-employed people, time is the one thing that matters and costs the most, but she kept insisting, “Sweta, it’s fine. You have come all the way from New York.”
In four days, aside from my childhood friends and family, I had the opportunity to spend time with five women whom I met online. They were so remarkably bright, intuitive, smart, creative, caring, and brave. No judgment, no criticism…an incredible level of openness to meet people where they are and accepting them as is. We discussed a plethora of things. How to write a book or build healthier boundaries with clients or protect ourselves against the survivor stories we hear because of our work or take better care of ourselves or even healthy recipes. One of the journalists from The Guardian and I connected because we both lost our moms a few years ago. We have both struggled with healing and grieving after incurring massive personal losses.
Coach Priya Shah planned a beautiful meal at a Redemption Bar, a vegan restaurant in Covent Garden. As I took a bite of the turmeric cauliflower in my Buddha Bowl, Priya said something very poignant, “How is it that we claim that others have crossed and disrespected boundaries with us, but we never once own that we might have done the same?” I sat there quietly… enjoying the power of the meal and her words. This is how real each meeting felt.
The level of consciousness and awareness that we live with can be isolating sometimes. If you don’t follow the societal rule book and try to fit within labels, the world can feel a bit bleak on some days. None of us were afraid to admit that. But we all seemed happy with who we are and how we choose to spend our lives. We ate healthy meals, drank refreshing English tea, quenched our thirst with beetroot kombucha, but we also went to happy hour and unabashedly tasted gourmet desserts & talked about our love of food. My point being, there was no pretension and labels attached to our time together. We all agreed that healthy living should be mixed up with naughty eating every once in a while, to make life more fun.
Often times, women are categorized as brains or beauty. A woman who enjoys dressing up mustn’t be very bright, I have heard this a million times over. One of the women I met with, Nadia Themis, has lived in different countries and is organizing a women’s conference in 2020. She was the one who introduced me to Mac’s liquid matte lipstick. In fact, each of these five women were sharp and successful…and much like me, fans of red lipstick. We discussed our favorite lipstick brands with as much passion as we brainstormed creative ideas and wellness techniques and possible collaborations.
When people talk about social media being the devil, I respect their opinion but always wonder: Can we really say that anything in the world is all 100% good or bad? Not really, right? It’s the same with social media too! Of course, there are creeps and trolls who stalk and leave nasty comments. Such people exist in the offline world too. But, on social media, there are also like-minded people you meet…sometimes, you don’t have access to such people in the real world. Friends move away. Good colleagues leave the job. Family responsibilities reduce access to certain people. While your family can be lovely, can you honestly tell me that you can relate to every family member?
As we evolve, shouldn’t our social circles evolve too? Social media dissipates geographic boundaries and brings diverse group of people together based on their values and beliefs.
“Surround yourself with a bunch of like-minded people, and you'll soak up their habits like a starved sponge.”
Sweta Srivastava Vikram (www.swetavikram.com) is a mindset & wellness coach, global speaker, and best-selling author of 12 books, including, the recent Louisiana Catch. She helps executives, entrepreneurs, and creative professionals increase profit and productivity through health and wellness. Winner of the “Voices of the Year Award,” (past recipients have been Chelsea Clinton and founders of the #MeToo movement) in her spare time, Sweta uses mindfulness, Ayurveda, and yoga to empower female survivors of trauma. Find her on: Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.