As part of my work, I’ve been thinking and reading about participation and social capital. The idea that we feel less efficacious because we have become increasingly isolated as public people I find fascinating. Especially as someone who is more comfortable with my own company than that of others. Given how hard I find it to be in company, am I really missing out on something? Are we all missing out on something?
And then, is the Internet, and the way it brings company into our living rooms, our offices, and now our mobile handsets, a new form of social capital, or is it just a placebo?
Because not only do I have really amazing close friends because of the immediate closeness that the Internet enables, but this past week I have discovered that you can feel more efficacious thanks to the Internet. The comments I have received on both the recent posts I put up have been inspiring, humbling and comforting. They have made me think that I can keep on keeping on, that I’m not alone, that I’m not being judged by everyone in quite the way I thought I maybe was.
But even more interesting is the knock on effect. People shared their JSA experiences after I wrote about ours, and my post about mental illness, which was itself inspired by someone else’s bravery is causing other people to share their stories.
Could we achieve critical mass? Could we push the stone fast enough down the hill that it gathers enough moss so that no-one feels they have to hide depression, anxiety, or other ‘unseen’ illnesses? I’d love it if we could. I’d love it if I really felt confident sharing my medical history, that I didn’t feel I was going to be judged in some way or another. And I suppose that this is what the Internet has allowed to happen, that however far apart, we can make a connection with each other, we can provide support and motivation to each other, and if that’s not social capital, I don’t know what is.