The Duality of Social Media and Traveling the World
So many great and wonderful things can be said about having the ability to be connected to loved ones back home via the internet when you are traveling or living abroad. You get constant updates while you are away, letting you feel like you are there when really you are thousands of miles away. You don´t feel quite as bad about missing a friends' birthday or anniversary because you can always send them a message or write them a quick Facebook post. You get to share photos of your amazing journey of life with everyone back home. With this action you get not only positive responses of how in awe people are that you are doing what you do but you also get a reassurance that what you are doing is worth-doing and that other people are excited or envious of your bravery (or stupidity).
With Facebook you can see the changing lives of your friends or classmates. You can look through photo albums of their growing families, their changing of homes and cities, and keep involved as if you were there. It´s comforting to see the faces of your family members on the screen and be able to use Skype to talk to them.
However, with all the positivity involved with this connectivity there can be a pitfall or two. This occurrence usually happens when the weather in your visiting country starts to turn sour. The winds pick up, the temperatures drop, and the clouds roll in. You curl up warm in your bed and drink your hot instant coffee while you wile away the time before you are forced to leave this ball of comfort you have created to wander freezing into the cold dark world. This is when you turn to social media to burn up some time. You start to miss home so you want to see your friends' faces and see what they are doing in this dark time. However, for them, it is summer and the weather is beautiful, the sun is shining, and they are lounging at the pool rather than bundled up in a frozen wasteland of which your mind has tricked you into thinking you are in. You begin to sulk as the annoyance of what your beautiful paradise has transformed into comes into reality. You came for the summer, the sun, the ease and the joy. And now you are stuck for the next few months in this wintry cold desperation? What cruelty! How dare the people at home enjoy their summer? Your sulking turns to envy. You get annoyed at the smiling faces on the screen, laughing under green flowering trees in their short sleeve shirts and shorts, sporting pretty flip flops as they frolic through the green landscapes. Meanwhile, you are wearing long pants, long sweaters, long socks, and a long scarf tied around your neck. What cruelty!
As the jealousy ebbs and flows inside your chest you search for an outlet to rid yourself of these negative emotions. For an artistic person such as myself, I dove into a new piece of work, absorbing myself in this drawing for more than two hours. By the end of my feverish exploration of pencil on paper, the feelings had dissipated and I was left feeling optimistic once more. My anger of the opposite seasons of my home-away-from-home and my hometown was gone and I was reminded that during their winter I was enjoying my own summer here. I had spent a beautiful Christmas day on the beach in the sun while my family in the Northern hemisphere had been covered in a white winter wonderland. While I spent a beautiful Thanksgiving in the South of Chile enjoying delicious pizza and Chilean tomato salad my family was watching the leaves changing from green to orange as they fell wind-whipped from the trees. While I was running around the busting city of Buenos Aires, shopping in a summer dress and flip flops the day before New Years, my northern counterparts where probably huddled in their homes escaping the freezing temperatures. And while I spent New Years playing soccer on the beach of the Pacific Ocean my American Midwest comrades kept warm by their fires after fever-inducing snow fight battles.
So I mustered up the better attitude and put on a happier face. The rain will pass and the clouds will surely part. My summer will come again. Right now I have to put in the time and watch as the torrential downpours that occasionally assault Santiago come and go in their oddball winter without snow. After such a rainstorm there is a light at the end of the tunnel, however. The magnificent Andes Mountains greet me as I look out of my balcony window, their snow dusted peaks shimmering in the early morning light. The beauty of the natural world surrounds the bustling city of Santiago, Chile and is only a short drive away. My winter wonderland is at my fingertips and my seascape is but a hop down the road. I guess it´s not so bad after all...