Blog #3 – Anecdotal Discussion on the Virtual World of Social Media and its Impact on our Experience of Self in the Physical World

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The virtual world of social media has allowed humans to evolve in ways never seen before.  During the recent pandemic, people were able to remain connected despite lockdowns, and were able to keep isolation at bay. Companies shifted to serve their clients online.   For many whose work could transition online, the transition was seamless.  Or was it?  To address this question, I’d like to speak about how my experience and the experience of my trade colleagues were different.  As a furniture maker with the House of Commons, when the pandemic hit, I had to continue working onsite.  This was very challenging at the time, but I was able to maintain some degree of normalcy despite a higher level of stress due to the ever-changing health requirements I had to navigate.  However, looking back at it, the situation forced me to be resilient, that is “able to withstand or recover quickly from difficult conditions” ( 

Now that the pandemic finds itself behind us, I’ve been able to return to my in-person baseline while still enjoying the benefits of social media as a tool that augments my social experience.  However, I would propose that this is not the case for all workers, especially those that were forced to integrate fully into the virtual world for their work survival.  Although their adaptation was initially touted as cutting-edge and successful as they were able to continue their employment despite the shutdowns, there has since been the development of an emerging psychological phenomena among this group described as discontinuation syndrome.  My wife, Linda Rombough, who is a private practioner of psychotherapy, has shared that herself and many of her colleagues have been observing this ever-increasing issue.  That is, as individuals have integrated themselves more and more online within social media, their brain’s neural pathways have reorganized themselves in such a way that has lowered their tolerance of physical effort.  Making it difficult for some to re-integrate into the balance between the physical and virtual community.  So, for instance, if you want to meet with friends in a virtual community, your there with a few clicks of the mouse, whereas in the physical get-togethers one has to put forward effort to dress, go outside and endure the elements, commute and once arrived, engage in small talk, etc.  Anecdotally, among these individuals, practioners have observed that this has resulted in an overall loss of joy for engaging in the real world, and thus a physical sense of isolation and disconnection. This has opened an area for further research to be done.

However, in the meantime, the thought that I’d like to put forward is, as we move forward into the virtual world, I feel that it will be more and more important to ensure that social media remains a tool that augments rather than defines us in order to maintain our balance as healthy physical beings.  And it will be important going forward that the social media platforms within the virtual world remain human-centric by walking the fine line of promoting resilience so that we can endure hardship versus making us vulnerable.

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The reason we all use social media is multifold.  I for instance use social media to stay in touch with friends and family, my kids use it stay connected with friends, and to be in the know of trends and influencers.  It’s a great place to expand one’s interests, be a part of community or even be entertained.  Ultimately, social media is about connection: ideas, thoughts, and information.  According to PsychCentral, “[h]uman connection is the sense of closeness and belongingness a person can experience when having supportive relationships with those around them. Connection is when two or more people interact with each other and each person feels valued, seen, and heard.  There’s no judgment, and you feel stronger and nourished after engaging with them.”  This sense of connection in the virtual world can be placed as much at risk as in the physical world of relationship ranging from absent to pathological.  For instance, if a partner is absent, and doesn’t follow through, they can seem unreliable, and can’t be counted on.  On the other hand, if a partner puts their needs and desires first at all costs, this can result in a dangerous and toxic entanglement.  This analogy also holds true in the realm of social media.  SearchEngineGeneral reports that, “59% of US adults do not trust news on Social Media.” Some of the possible psychological impacts of this broken trust like in any relationship can be increased anxiety and resentment, isolation, withdrawal, and low self-worth, and on the extreme, increased paranoia, agitation, and delusions.

Lost Business or Opportunity

Adobe Business shares the following examples of things that can drive a wedge between a prospective customer, and brands that result in broken trust:

  • Tracking me online without my consent.
  • Lack of respect of my personal boundaries by sending me too many communications.
  • Continue to send me stuff even though I’ve unsubscribed.

These behaviors can leave us feeling resentful, and no longer willing to engage.  In addition, they compromise our safety, privacy and well-being.  Even something as simple as circular links that do not take me to the answer that I’m looking for, or broken links, or irrelevant handles or hashtags.

Dangerous Politics

Social media can also carry the characteristics of a pathological partner that is unstable, impulsive, and controlling at all costs.  Like the recent unfoldings at Twitter, that have the world unbalanced, and questioning its direction and content leaves subscribers vulnerable and destabilized.  These situations are ripe for opportunist to exploit the void, and for those feeling overwhelmed to withdraw to their safe echo chambers.  Leaving many disconnected and vulnerable to manipulation. 

Finally, to sum up, broken trust can have a serious or devasting consequence to users of social media, and it is important that social responsibilities and rules of trusting engagement be respected.

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Blog #1 – MI-Nov 22 Developing a Social Media Strategy – The Power in Power Tools

Sean Rombough – Spirit Tree Furniture

This is the first in a series of blogs on empowerment in the wood shop to further your confidence and your “can do” attitude needed to embrace your place as a budding maker of functional art.  Our mutual interest and passion for traditional cabinetry and woodworking has brought us together in this community, and it is my goal that I continue to support you on your creative journey outside the classroom.  Whether you’re a person who took one of my classes to overcome your fears of using tools and taking creative risks, or someone who has been feeling disenchanted or creatively blocked and is seeking a space for concrete creative expression, we will explore the power that power tools can bring to the experience.  I will show you how these tools play a key part in the building process, while instilling you with a sense of empowerment and independence.

Safety First

Everything we’ve ever bought tells us to read the instructions first.  How many of you do?  Before you get too critical, my hand didn’t go up either.  Let’s see if we can look at this from a different perspective.  Each power tool has a set of standard operating procedures.  These procedures are often written by the manufacturer and not by users…very frustrating.  So I get it…why bother you say.  So how does one safely use a power tool? Are you aware that I explore this very issue in my Woodworking 2 course.  Here I share my professional knowledge and hands-on experience of over 40 years, to help you navigate the steps to confidently use power tools to accomplish your projects.  Did you know that the number one cause of injury with table saws is kickbacks?  Come learn how these can be virtually eliminated by using a riving blade in my upcoming class starting in January 2023.

Creating a Judgement Free Environment

You’re going to make mistakes…and that’s ok.  Remember that this is a new skill and a new way of being.  What are some of the power tools you’ve been curious about, and don’t have a clue how to use, or even what they’re for?  Here’s a starting list of valuable power tools that can enhance your creative experience when woodworking, once mastered:

  • Table saw – can be used to dimension materials, run joinery, and create moldings.
  • Router – to do artistic edge treatments and make mortise and tenon joints.
  • Bandsaw – cutting shapes, and resawing lumber.
  • Lathe – turning legs, bowls, and pedestals.
  • Jointers – create straight surfaces on lumber.
  • Mitre saws – cutting rails to length and making mitre joints
  • Drill – create joinery and attaching hardware.
  • Thickness planner – surfacing rough materials and changing lumber dimensions.

These are just some of the power tools that I can think of.  Are there others you’re curious about?  Don’t be afraid to explore and ask questions.  Here are some sites you may want to checkout to help you expand your knowledge of power tools:

The Power Tool Website –

Fine Woodworking –

Tools in Action –

Coming up…

As you’re next step toward creative empowerment when making your functional art, checkout my next week’s blog in this series called, Build Your Confidence When Using Hand Tools.

Want to learn more…stay in touch…

Making and Preserving Canadian History

Sean Rombough

Senior Cabinet Maker, House of Commons

Not every day is glamourous, but everyday is interesting, when I’m working at the House of Commons’ woodworking shop. Before the sun crests over the horizon, I head out the door, where I will begin my day making and preserving Canadian History.  I arrive at the shop, greeted by the familiar smell of coffee infused with the rich lingering aroma of the white oak project I worked on yesterday.  The hallways are lined with couches, tables, and cabinets at various stages of completion destined to join there place in the historic buildings of the Parliamentary Precinct.

Today, is particularly notable, because we’re continuing the evolution of the most visible piece of Canadian historic furniture…the Clerk’s table of the House of Commons.  As I prepare to start my work, I rub my hands along the smooth surface, taking note of the fluctuation in the grain.  I connect with the work of the cabinet makers that preceded me more than a century ago.  I endeavor to live up to the standards that they’ve setout to me. But today, I have a special challenge…how do I integrate the technology of today…without diminishing this important piece of history.  I will consult with many colleagues, and create many prototypes, before the tools of my trade are put to work on this piece, as anything less than perfect is unacceptable.

As I work, my actions progress with mindful intention, and my eyes remain focused on producing a piece that will stand the test of time.   My tools are the chisels, planes, and saws, that help me transform the wood into functional historical art.  My arms and hands move rhythmically as I shape the pieces that will transform this table’s function to meet the needs of the 21st century but protect the vision of those that created it.