Communication Freedom Presence Reflection Social Media

How can you be free when you’re being followed?

How social media and followers influence how we enjoy our lives.

Last week I received a Whatsapp message from a good friend in the Netherlands.

He and I both meditate and call each other occasionally to discuss our experiences.

We’re both educated in economics.

He is, in my words, a hard-core finance guy who did well for himself. I’ve chosen the leadership side of business because I believe that’s where it all starts.

We both agree on the fact that businesses exist to make money. Yes, they must also serve a higher purpose, but their contribution won’t add value if there’s no money down the line.

Bill Gates couldn’t donate billions of his wealth to a better planet if he didn’t earn those billions in the first place.

Probably too simplistic of a thought, but that’s how I see it.

Anyway, this friend and I enjoy discussing what meditation does for us and how it helps set us up for a great day.

Thirty-five years after we met and many common stories later, the hard edges are replaced by life’s meaning.

The Whatsapp message from my friend read:

“How can you be free when you’re being followed?”

No additional context.

Given the above context, I assumed he woke up in a philosophical mood.

That’s what I asked him before I responded:

“Freedom is the will to be responsible to ourselves.”

Friedrich Nietzsche

Why not counter with a text from Friedrich Nietzsche?

I was preparing myself for another philosophical discussion when his next message came through:

“A friend of mine is going for four weeks to Patagonia with his partner. In their trip preparations, they were discussing with their friends to set up something so their friends could follow them. That’s when I (my friend) started to think about whether I would want that. It would give me a feeling of not being free. Therefore my question is, can you be free when you’re being followed.”

Somewhat disappointed that I was not going to have a deep conversation, I simply replied:

‘I would understand if they would leave for four months or four years. But four weeks seems a bit overdoing it. Why not make a Whatsapp group, post one picture per week, wait thirty minutes for reactions, and then disconnect again for the next 167.5 hours.”

Or follow the adage: “no news is good news.”

Knowing my friend, I’m surprised he has friends like this. He’s the polar opposite.

But who am I to judge?

Nobody is perfect.

I only know that if I went on a four-week trip somewhere, I would not set up some system to be followed.

Yes, I have LinkedIn and Instagram, which I don’t use heavily, but not during those four weeks. My parents would get a message that we arrived safely, and that’s it.

Or perhaps, just one picture somewhere halfway of the gorgeous landscape while waiting on the bus from Rio Grande to Ushuaia.

So, to answer the question that was not waiting for an answer:

If it becomes a task to keep your friends and family updated through some type of social system, you’ve lost the meaning of the trip.

You’re going there to spend time with your loved one and enjoy the breathtaking beauty of Patagonia!!

Read that again.

You’re going there to spend time with your loved one and enjoy the breathtaking beauty of Patagonia!!

Be in the moment.

Assume wifi and 5G don’t exist.

You’re not missing out on what those at home are doing in the dark days of winter. And those at home are probably not waiting for your ‘look at us having a great time in this part of our gorgeous world’ pictures either.

But I might be wrong.

That’s what I was thinking through.

Then, I finished what I had to do and called my friend back home, and we still had a good conversation. When I heard him eating his bread, I knew it was time to go.

He’s now cooking for a meditation class in a monastery. And I’m writing this story.

Life changes all the time. Enjoy it in freedom.

Your turn: Can you be free when you’re being followed?

Do more of what makes you happy!


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Erikjan Lantink
Business & Leadership Coach

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