Throughout my 18 years of freelancing, I have often heard freelance reporters express their feelings of loneliness and isolation from other reporters due to the nature of the freelance world. Some of us work 100 percent from our home offices, covering for several different firms and/or agencies. We don’t have an office environment to enable us to interact with other reporters. Others who work with a specific firm do not always have their jobs at the office, and even when they do, many times they still do not have the opportunity to interact with other reporters. Some firms will call the reporters into the office for an occasional group meeting or perhaps plan a social function, but those could be few and far between.
Of course, in this fast-paced electronic world we live in, there are all the social networking outlets to turn to, such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. But I’m here to advocate for all of us to make an effort to get out in the real world and let’s get personal! We all have so much to offer one another, and it’s not something that you can get staring at a computer screen.
I believe the need for networking and socializing with peers in person is vital to our own well-being. Science even says there are eight good reasons to be socially engaged: immune system, blood pressure, brain health and memory, physical activity, depression, pain, nutrition, and relationships. We humans are hardwired to crave and rely on human contact. Unlike, for example, a turtle, which hatches from a buried egg and is on its own from that moment on, people depend on other people for survival. Just as humans have a built-in desire for food, water, and sleep, we also have a deep need to connect with other people. Remember the scene in the movie Cast Away where Tom Hanks, marooned on a deserted island, creates a “companion” by drawing a face on a volleyball that has drifted ashore? Yikes!
So close that computer lid, and get out there and look your fellow reporter friends in the eyes! Round up a group and meet for dinner, or plan a study group to meet once a month to swap war stories, briefs, and software issues. I love it when my own groupies will get together at Christmas time, gift exchange and all, and inevitably the talk will turn to “shop talk.” We all crave it and love it! You’ll love what you can learn, all while having a great time.