Instagram stories, Snapchat and Twitter have us out here thinking that we're closer than ever. In fact, in my mind, my imaginary crew is made up of Sophia Roe, Myleik Teele and of course Nikisha Brunson. We watch their videos, get a sneak peek into their lives; we listen to their voices, millie rock to the 10-second music snippets they share, and follow them on a variety of mundane adventures from grocery shopping, or throwing on a facial mask. We can name their pets, children, the current book they're reading or even their sig other. At times, it almost, just almost feels like you know them know them. The truth: it's one-sided, impersonal and although a bit more candid, still a contrived and curated medium.
When I watch Lauren Ash, I get serious FOMO (fear of missing out) not just because I'm willing to bet that we'd be best friends if I still lived in Chicago, but also because she's in my hometown doing things I'd love to do with people who I know I'd vibe with!
Confession: Even though I love my life in Spain and the roots that I've planted, I still long for a group of gorgeous, loud, brilliant, glowing, unapologetic Black women to prance down these cobblestoned streets with.
At the risk of sounding huffy, I'll say this: I'm thankful for LMDES.
Finding genuine community in the age of social media is fundamental. As much as I love knowing just what's inside of Nikisha Brunson's daily smoothies, we are not friends, or connected in any way. Living abroad as a WOC can be an isolating experience. When I want to grab brunch, or go for a cocktail a la Sex in the City (or, better yet, Girlfriends) I'm not going to hop on FaceTime with Myliek. We need people, real people, to share our time with away from the screens. Again, this is why LMDES essential. I knew what Spain was like pre-Las Morenas de España and I can say that for WOC we're much better off here with the resources, events, retreats and community.
I know: "But, Danni, you work with LMDES of course you feel this way!". LMDES is almost 3 years old. I've lived in Spain for 7 years. I know how I felt before, and how I feel now, and the difference is palpable.
How to Find Genuine Community in the Age of Social Media?
Don't just creep, interact
You could watch those snaps everyday, or you could also interact in the comment sections: ask questions, speak with the other fan-girls. Imagine if someone watched you brush your teeth everyday through their phone camera... and never said a word. Yo! That's creepy AF! Talk to them, they may even respond!
Step away from the phone
It's not real. You're not going to get a prize for knowing what Kim K ate for breakfast two weeks ago. Studies show that if you put your phone down while walking you're 90% less likely to bust your ish on the sidewalk! Facts. Start by being present where you are. You'll miss the glorious Plaza Mayor because you're watching Myliek spit truth from her bathtub!
Support from afar
I may not be able to juke with the rest of my skinfolk at Party Noire, but I can engage with the community from afar. I can buy t-shirts, or bags, or even cheer them on from Madrid to let them know that their voices are reaching farther than they think.
This is probably the most important. Support those trying to push the movement where you are right now! Every revolution starts with an individual and spreads to other like-minded people. We cannot make a community without you, or you, or you either. The reason that LMDES thrives is because it's a living, breathing, ever-changing entity. We are comprised or people at every stage of this journey from those wishing to move abroad, the newbies who've just landed, the study abroad students, to the seasoned expats, those married with kids, and the retirees who have just got their groove back!
Will I still check in on my play bffs? Absolutely! Will I envy what they have? No, I won't because I'll be too busy over here building my own tribe of dope WOC who are also down for the take-over.
We hosted our first event of the Fall in Madrid on October 21st 2017. It was a #BlackGirlMagic Brunch, and well, that doesn't need much more explaining. We out here. We lit. Come join us for the next gathering! You may even make some IG bffs who live around the corner versus across the globe!
Danni, Community + Content Director at Las Morenas de España, is a twenty-something, Chicago native currently residing in Madrid. Lover of language, words, and travel, she's managed to combine all of her passions through her work. In her free time, you can find her exploring the winding streets of Madrid, hunting down good flight deals, planning her next adventure and writing & researching for LMDES. Danni loves spicy food, natural hair, music and of course, her wonderful husband. If you need to find her, she’s the girl with huge hair and her face buried in her Kindle.