Disconnect to Connect in 2012

In October, we wrote a post about how online overdose is harmful to our family.  We tried our best to explain why we disconnected. Unfortunately,  we found that our actions had some unintended consequences.  We are truly saddened and disappointed by the reactions from some of our friends. We have learned a lot about the people in our lives from this “unfriending” process.

If we have hurt you in some way by “unfriending” on Facebook, for what it is worth, please accept our sincere apologies. Honestly, the important thing to us is not about being friends on an online social network, but that you, whoever you are, are our friend in person.  And for us, it is really about doing what’s best for us as a family.

We still feel strongly about our decision and we don’t regret it. Frankly, when I see videos like these (below) they make me cry big and hate myself because I know that I am guilty of these actions where people around me (i.e., my family) “disappeared.”  In the long-run, I know deep down that there could be far more damaging consequences. I cannot take that lightly.




The following news clip is outdated for sure (as FB has over 750 million users), but the main points are still


Two days ago, we received an email from a family we met in Luang Prabang in Feb., 2011. They proved to me that even though we probably could have been FB friends along the way (we’ve not been), they have made sincere effort to stay connected with us. They sent us a holiday e-card,  a family picture from the Great Wall of China. I don’t take that lightly. Thanks to the family from Kunming, China whom we met during our short jaunt to Laos for staying connected with us.

Just today, as I was surfing on the web, I discovered this post on 35 gifts your children will never forget and the quote at the top of the post struck me hard. The gift list serves as an excellent guide for parents, though #32 and #33 in particular resonated with me.  A good reminder to me that my husband and my daughter need me, my time and effort to truly stay connected to them, just like I need them to do the same.

“You give but little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.” – Kahlil Gibran

A few months ago I met a talented artist named Lili during an art exhibition at Sangdee Gallery.  I’ve seen Lili’s name pop up here and there as well as her art work in Chiang Mai.  Most recently I discovered this website and I send Lili my respect for her time and talent she shares, thereby connecting with underprivileged children. Lately, I’ve been thinking about how we might be able to collaborate and connect in the coming year.

And the other day, I came upon this blog full of humility and humanity, reminding me of how short and fragile life truly is and that in the bigger picture of being connected, I know deep down I would rather be connecting with loved ones and friends in person whenever possible.  I haven’t met Randy in person though I have noticed his presence at one of our favorite local cafes in Chiang Mai for which he humbly raised money as his birthday wish.   To Randy, I send my deepest respect.

I’ll be returning home in less than a month and I know being on-line is the least of my worries and certainly not at all a priority while I am there. My priority will be spending time and connecting with family I’ve not seen in over three years.  My priority will be on making an effort to help my daughter understand many things about my home and why I worked so hard to have the life we have today to raise her in an Asian country. We’ve lived in Chiang Mai for over a year and this will be our first time returning home, M’s first time to see where her Mommy was born and raised for 12 years.  And that I do not take lightly.

It’s December 22 in Thailand, 3 days before Christmas as I sit in bed trying to recover from a bad, bad cold and not a worry about wrapping one gift.  Frankly, I agree with this quote wholeheartedly!  “The gifts that will bring your heart lasting joy aren’t laying under your Christmas tree” via becoming minimalist. .And speaking of gifts, do try to remember those who truly need a holiday gift.

As I ponder and look back on 2011, I have very few regrets on the way we’ve lived our lives.  We’re not perfect.  We’ve made our share of mistakes and learned.  There’s always room for learning and growing in our lives.  To be honest, we still have a lot of work to do on disconnecting regularly, to be more present so we can be connected to each other.  It’s a juggle.  It’s a struggle.

We’re proud and thankful we’ve had our chance of being decent human beings, making decent contributions to humanity with humility in 2011.

And the work must go on.  The challenge is to remain faithful to the service work we came to do here in Thailand, which require some online time, and to retain balance by giving our time to each other as a family.

With that we move forward to 2012.

Here’s one of my favorite videos this year.  I share it as a gift to you.   We wish everyone a happy holiday season filled with wonderful experiences and memories.

“May the people around you today are blessed by you.Just by your eyes, and your smiles. By your touch. Just by your presence.  Let the gratefulness overflow into blessings all around you.”




12 thoughts on “Disconnect to Connect in 2012

  1. You’ll definitely have a much easier time visiting home without as many internet commitments! I’m really looking forward to catching up with you 3 in January!

  2. Holy Moses, do I understand! I think the whole overload is giving me serious anxiety issues and a very short attention span. Can’t say it has helped me at all as a writer either. Looking forward to catching up IN PERSON in Thailand in 2012. 🙂

  3. Hi everyone.

    To be absolutely honest, this whole process has been very taxing for me emotionally. I really hated it. I honestly did not think I would lose friends in person because I unfriended them on FB, but I evidently did, and perhaps, that was a good way of finding out who my real friends are. I thought about it for a long time and struggled with it. For me, I unfriended in phases mainly because I was afraid of what other people might think. And in the end, I know some people thought the worst of me (us). But we did what we had to do based on what’s best for our family. For myself, I had close to 300 friends and now, 67. I too have been unfriended in the past on FB, but I certainly did not disrespect them by ignoring them when I see them in person.

    For me, it was not just keeping up with FB, but Twitter, Gmail, G+, our blogs and all my other volunteer responsibilities which are mostly online. I manage 7 FB pages, 5 Twitter accounts, 2 Sparked accounts, Smugmug account, Stumble account, Linked-in and responding to volunteer questions as I recruit volunteers online.

    When it is too much it’s too much. And obviously, not everyone agrees with our thoughts and reasoning about the unfriending on fb, and here is one of those times we have to agree to disagree.

    Thanks for stopping by, reading this post and leaving supportive comments. Happy holidays everyone. May your new year be filled with connecting with those who keep coming back to you despite the imperfections in all of us!

  4. That is very strong and brave of you to disconnect to reconnect with what is important in your life!
    Facebook does take a lot to keep it active…not sure that I have a balance in life (yet) but I am working on it 🙂

    All the best with your travel plans and showing your family where you grew up.

  5. Good for you for standing up to what is right and best for you and your family. I hope others, including myself, take your words to heart more. We do need to disconnect more to connect with others in our lives.

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