In a world of virtual connection, is there such a thing as the power of a virtual embrace? Share on X

I don’t know what it’s like where you live, but here in the Boston area, the news has been filled with what happened in Paris last Friday – and I’ve been filled with a sense of paradox: both connection and disconnect.

How to connect? How to embrace?

It’s hard to know the difference between ‘the world’ and ‘myself’ and where the separation begins. How do we know who is ‘us’ in the sense of experiencing who something is happening to – when is it happening to someone else and when is it’s happening to ‘us’?

Eiffel Tower - Image by Matt Girling

Eiffel Tower – Image by Matt Girling

If we’re a foot away, did it happen to us? If we’re a street away? A city away? A country away? An ocean between us? If we smelled it, or tasted it, or felt it on our skin how different – how very, very different – is that from hearing it on the news?  Or is the difference a matter of choice — choosing how connected or disconnected we are?

I don’t know the answers, but as an artist and a human I wonder, and I listen … and I often don’t know how to act, or how to reach out. Yet I feel the impulse – as you would embrace someone who turns to you in tears.

In a world of virtual connection, is there such a thing as the power of a virtual embrace?

If I only imagine my connection to people frightened and in pain in Paris, can I also imagine an embrace that would be felt in their imaginations?

And to the people still invisible to me, whose stories don’t resonate from my kitchen radio?  Can I connect, can I embrace?  And can that be felt somehow, somewhere? And does it matter? Will the overwhelm of that sense of connection disconnect me?

I’m not asking to get an answer – either from myself or from you, but because asking opens a doorway in my mind and when it’s open, things I haven’t yet imagined come through.

Those at least I know I can embrace as beloved friends … and I can hope that embrace is felt by unknown friends – in Paris, in Syria, in places I don’t know the names of – people fleeing or seeking or alone or in pain –  people who need the feel of an embrace, and to know that we are connected.

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