We cannot underestimate how challenging this time is for so many people.
Over the past 18 months, what we have learned from men who participate in Men’s Tables is the value of staying connected to safe spaces in our communities. These trusted spaces can provide us with enriching sources of nourishment and connection. When we stay committed to showing up for ourselves and each other, we hold the integrity of these safe spaces.
Many of us are literally exhausted – either from overdoing “transactional” online exchanges; helping the kids do home-schooling, or just trying to keep the home fires burning. Being online for long periods of time can become overwhelming, especially on video calls when trying to understand the people present in the online group, following their conversations, and tracking their visual and non visual cues.
For any man who has experience of video calls and their challenges, ask yourself, what is different about your experience of a virtual Men’s Table, when based on the guiding Fundamentals and Safety Net? Are you seeing some real benefits from connecting monthly in person or online?
We are hearing from men, at both new and existing tables, a number of stories about how to navigate this time together.
Last month, 7 out of 11 men from my Table gathered virtually and had the funnest night ever on zoom. I must acknowledge, our Table has a past experience to draw on, benefiting from spending 5 months last year on Zoom! The glue that bonds us and the guiding Fundamentals of Men’s Tables has created a safe space which was strong and valuable in guiding us online as well.
Some men may not be comfortable or trained with the technology skills needed to connect virtually or have never participated in zoom or virtual meetings. Some men may have a belief that technology is not a good fit for providing social connection. We understand that may be the case and offer a suggestion that technology is actually like any tool, and because it is a tool, we can use it consciously to serve us in seeking connection.
Last week, I met Helen from Living Connection. Their free community service provides support, educating people on how to use the virtual tools available to stay in touch with your communities to craft and maintain connections. We encourage anyone interested in upskilling to follow the link below to access this program:
The Men’s Table have a lived experience of how well the virtual Table format serves men. Honouring the original intentions of the Men’s Table, the virtual Tables provide a safe space to learn together, witness each other, serve each other and be served by your Men’s Table. We ask you to stay flexible in this current climate of uncertainty. Until we can gather in person again, transitioning to virtual Tables offers men the ability to uphold the integrity of their Table, and stepping in to take your place at the Table is important and valued.
The Fundamentals & Safety Net are the mechanisms that create a safe space at your Table, either virtually or in the physical format, and they continue to serve us online.
You can create the “Vault” at home – where confidentiality is honoured and you create a “Table bubble”
Selecting “Gallery View” on most online platforms allows all men to take equal space on the screen just like a seat at the table – just don’t log on with your phone as you can only see 4 people!!;
Bring all of yourself.. including your Dinner – and if you don’t like looking at yourself – you can even “hide self-view” – just google to find out how!
Some people are Zoomed out or feel technology is a business tool, and not a social tool for connection – but stories from the Table suggest we are having good experiences for most tables who took the leap to online for now.
If you need some tech support – take the opportunity to reach out to the free service above or one of your men at Table to help out.
~ Michael Collins