Discover more from Storyless
A Less Online Existence
Musings on using the internet less often and stuff like that
I've been in a liminal space. It's been the most challenging, confusing, and dark time of my life, much of which I hide out of shame and fear of being misunderstood or becoming a burden.
From the outside I probably appear fairly functional, even happy at times as I was throughout this weekend, finding medicine through community and inner child work (read: snowball fights). But I have mostly been fighting demons; simply unable to function. I’m feeling immensely grateful for others' patience and commitment as I work through my mental health and addiction journey. I have tremendous support from various family, friends, and teachers and hold a deep conviction in sustainable recovery and transformation.
Liminal spaces provide few anchors. But several truths have emerged for me and feel… worth sharing.
First, I believe that a radically more beautiful world is possible. Hearts are awakening to this possibility in mass. The deeper and more open I go with friends and community, the clearer this becomes. Humans crave intimacy, belonging, connection, community, relationship, and love more than any utility or achievement, and containers where these feelings can be felt and expressed create more for the world than any commodified product or service.
Maslow’s hierarchy of needs has been deeply misleading. It’s in safe spaces alongside communities where people are free to express their creative genius, heal their wounds, discover their gifts, and live inside of a better world together. Progress has always come first and foremost from safe spaces, synchronous scenes, and shared vibes. Everything else is downstream from togetherness, yes, even food and water. Somewhere along the way, our society has forgotten this truth. Now, we are tasked with remembrance.
I have been called into service to this possibility via storytelling and experiential design. I believe these are the gifts I have to cultivate and offer. I’ve seen firsthand the transformational power of experiences that demonstrate a more loving and interconnected world. (Such experiences have saved my life.) Lived experiences most directly expand our sense of what’s possible to feel and know. Words follow, providing an anchor for experience to live on through shifts in perspective. Communities practice living inside of these new realities together so they can be held open for others to step into and expand.
As I see it, this is how progress happens: 1) Experience 2) Story 3) Community.
What matters most for my well-being, my dharma, and for all of those with whom I am connected, is that I awaken each morning and show up to the practice of giving these gifts.
It’s in moments of alignment - of giving my gifts and having them well-received - that I feel most alive. It’s when I’m facilitating an experience and I can feel the resonance that’s been co-created. It’s when I’m telling a story and see eyes light up and shifts in perspective take hold. This gift-giving practice is my only intention for 2022. It’s an outcome-independent practice; I don’t presume to know what’s best or should come next, only that it’s right to wake up and give.
Foster has an opportunity to inspire a more interconnected world through transformative experiences and collective storytelling. We’ve only just scratched the surface in this regard, but the compass points in a clear direction. Foster is a practice in giving and receiving gifts of perspective and resonance so that even the earliest of ideas might be nurtured into stories that move and transform.
Inside Foster, writers can more freely explore and embody their truest and most expressed creative selves. Over time, we might evolve into an internet space totally unlike anything we’ve seen prior. Safe, nourishing, constructive, authentic, human, mindful. We might together tell stories that could have never been crafted otherwise. We’ve barely begun and can only see a few feet ahead of us, but we’ll walk the whole journey that way.
I have meditated deeply on how I personally show up for this journey in a way that embodies my gifts and practice. It’s become clear that I’m most in alignment when I spend time with human beings up close and personal. The stories I have to tell are best communicated with presence (ironically, I’m not that great of a writer.) The experiences I have to facilitate are best felt in the same way.
Sitting behind a computer screen all day feels so unnatural it seems my entire body is shutting down in opposition to that lifestyle.
The web triggers my easily addicted mind and I find myself tethered to Twitter or other mindless internet activities. One might say “just put the phone down” as one would say “just put the drugs down,” but for me, it’s not that simple.
My environment must change. My way of being must evolve. I have to allow myself to be different. This much I know.
So, how the fuck does one steward an online-first community without being very online?
Firstly, I know I can show up for writing. Writing and editing drafts in Foster isn’t actually very online in nature. Google Docs might as well be a typewriter. I could even print out drafts and sit with them at my desk, transferring comments over afterward. Or write first drafts by hand. I continue to believe that the practice of collaborative writing itself is our best path forward for contributing toward Foster’s co-created culture. Each draft in Foster is an opportunity to practice receiving the gift of a unique perspective and offering our own. As stewards of Foster, our work starts each day with each individual draft.
Well-architected virtual events aren’t all that online either. So long as they are occasional and attended with mindfulness and presence, these experiences can be a meaningful practice. One-on-one conversations held over the phone on long walks can be similarly present, offline, and deeply impactful on community strength and vision. Any form of IRL collaboration with the team or NYC chapter aligns with a more present way of being too.
Outside of Foster, I intend to show up for the broader NYC creative and entrepreneurial community in a similar fashion; through taking long walks with close friends, facilitating heart-opening experiences, and sharing captivating stories that expand our community's sense of what’s possible to know and feel toward a more interconnected sense of reality.
It’s these present modes of showing up that make me feel most alive and wholehearted in giving my gifts. No matter how satisfying at times, scrolling instagram and showering my friends in likes and comments just isn’t the same. And I can’t help but wonder what would happen if all the time spend doing such activities was redirected to a deeper sense of presence and attention to community through less-online ways of being.
Only one way to find out…