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Lindsay Bell

Step Outside Your Comfort Zones…Online and Off

By: Lindsay Bell | September 11, 2013 | 
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Comfort Zones

By Lindsay Bell

Those of you who know me, know I enjoy the odd tipple (not this early in the morning, mind you!).

You might also know I live in the slightly blue collar east end area of Toronto.

Directly to the north are million dollar homes on a gorgeous ravine. To the south, million dollar homes on the beach.

Where I live? Not so much.

But I love my little hood. It has everything you could need: Two subway stops, schools, 24-hour grocery and pharmacy, a fantastic dog park, hardware stores, restaurants, and doctor’s offices. And, my local.

My local is my local because it’s local. Like, ‘I can see it from my back deck’ local. Yes, that’s equal parts awesome and dangerous, but it provides my neighborhood with a sense of community – a ‘place’ – where everybody knows your name. (Note from Gini: “Local” means local bar, for those of you who don’t speak Lindsay.)

I got to thinking about the odd little microcosm that is my local, and how easily we can get isolated by our comfort zones – both online and off.

Scammers and Spammers

Just like the online world, my local is full of a few sketchy characters. I mean, really sketchy. I know people who would never set foot in the place. But as a veteran ‘people watcher’ (and a Maritimer!), I love it.

Whether I’m engaging with new people on Twitter and Facebook, or striking up a conversation on a patio, it’s up to me to be on the ball, eyes open, radar up when it comes to the scammers and spammers I might encounter. Life experience and a finely tuned gut instinct rarely fail me, online or off. And I would hate to miss out on the fabulous because of fear.

Community and Connections

The Interwebs have enriched my life in ways I would never have imagined. And that I still can’t quite explain to my parents. I’ve embarked on a new career, and have made an astonishing number of incredible connections online. There’s a core handful who would help me out in a heartbeat. That’s called community.

And while there are only a handful of people at my local who actually know where I live, during the past 10 years or so, I’ve also made deep connections there (heck, that’s where I met my husband!).

When you think about it, no one’s more community-minded than a guy who’s been working these streets for 40 years. Trust is a huge commodity in any community, online or off. Maybe more so in a sketchy dive bar. As I always tell people, I would rather have the shady guy on my side, than against me.

Musicians and Mobsters

Speaking of characters, what’s so interesting about social is you ‘meet’ people  you would never meet otherwise. I chat regularly with industry big wigs, small business owners, bloggers, journalists, developers, and CEOs. I’m friends with people from Australia, Chile, Norway, France, the United States north and south, and all parts of Canada. My local, as a similar social petri dish, is not so different.

I’ve met artists, musicians, and filmmakers, construction workers and accountants, creative directors and chefs, veterans, and more than a few of the aforementioned shady characters. All of these people live in my neighborhood, but there’s a slim chance I would have met them if I hadn’t popped in for a pint.

People and Perspective

Whether it’s social media or my local saloon, it’s that unique mix of people, from every level of society and walk of life, that keeps me coming back, and has forced me out of my own personal comfort zones. Every day (more so this summer it seems) I hear incredible stories of success and solitude, horror and heartache, life and love, remorse and redemption. The bottom line is this: Every single person I meet, slightly sketchy or super successful, changes me in some way, shape, or form.

So, the next time you’re walking past that slightly run-down diner, or that bar that always seems to be just a little too dark, pop in for a bit. You just might meet some interesting characters and hear a great story or two.

About Lindsay Bell


Lindsay Bell is the content director at Arment Dietrich, and works in Toronto. A former TV producer, she’s a strong advocate of three minutes or less of video content. She has a cool kid, a patient husband, two annoying cats, and Hank Dawge, a Vizsla/Foxhound/moose hybrid. Ok, maybe not moose.

44 comments
photo chris
photo chris

See, you CAN network, lol! Getting people's stories from them is always a first step :-) Ha! 

MollyBorchers1
MollyBorchers1

This is a great post! I traveled for six weeks alone last year to get out of my comfort zone. When you're in unfamiliar territory and you have no one to talk to but yourself for six weeks, it's much easier to strike up conversation with that stranger sitting on the bar stool next to you. ;) 

It's so fun connecting with new people on & offline. Thanks for your perspective!

RebeccaTodd
RebeccaTodd

Excellent post Ell Bee! I love your perspective. It doesn't matter what people "do", great conversation and fresh perspectives are always welcome. One day, we are going there together!

ayms219
ayms219

Great post! Love the comparison between your "local" community and online communities. An excellent way to help those who haven't embraced the beauty of the interwebs to understand community building online. I also happen to live in Toronto's East end - far East in Scarberia, so high five for East-end pride!

yvettepistorio
yvettepistorio

Love these places too - they usually have the best drinks, people, and sometimes even good food. The divier a place looks, the more my husband wants to go - great post Ellbee!

ginidietrich
ginidietrich moderator

If @jasonfalls ever visits Toronto, you have to take him to your local. He would love that!  

susancellura
susancellura

I adore those types of bars! And places! I've met some of my closest friends at the Local. (I love that term!) You can be you in a place like that, and to your point, you meet some characters that can end up sharing some unique insights, thus making life that much more interesting. Fabulous post, Lindsay!

RobBiesenbach
RobBiesenbach

I love these places—the ones that have no discernible name. The only sign outside is one provided by a long-extinct beer company. 

And to be clear, I'm talking about bars here, not speaking metaphorically ...

LSSocialEngage
LSSocialEngage

So true. Nicely put. I used to live in the East End years and years ago - Pape & Danforth... 

belllindsay
belllindsay

@susancellura Thanks Susan, yes, I've sure met some characters. But the best thing is how safe I feel there (oddly enough). I know everyone, good AND bad, and they know me and hubs - and even if you pop in by yourself, there will always be someone to chat with. 

belllindsay
belllindsay

@LSSocialEngage Welllll, I'm a tad further east than that. Pape and Danforth is pretty swish! :) But once you past Pape heading towards Donlands....yikes! :)

belllindsay
belllindsay

@rdopping Hey Ralph, not going to name the place, just, you know, because. But I know there are a lot of similar joints out in the west end as well. There's something unique about the bars that populated the Danforth/Bloor St. back in the day (a hundred plus years ago - many of which still survive!). 

LSSocialEngage
LSSocialEngage

@belllindsay  My nephew's home day care was near there just off of Donlands. I used to go pick him up from there. How about Thorncliffe Park. Is that still the same as it used to be. We used to go to a indian store/restaurant (Iqbal's) near there all the time.

GroTraffic
GroTraffic

@belllindsay @Mark_Harai Man, I'm always missing happy hour!  When I was younger, never! :o

Thanks for taking us on a tour of Lyndsay's world - and sharing how exciting life can be when you make it a habit to stay out of your comfort zone : )

Unless you lift your head up and 'see' the world you know nothing about, you'll always be ignorant.  

Social is great because it expands your knowledge base 'internationally' though relationships, real world experiences, and growth with your peers, some of which have become among your closest friends - - that you never would have met, if not for the social web!

That's mind boggling, and will prove to one of the most profound and disruptive media's the world has ever seen.

If you have words and vision that moves people, a common man or woman can potentially set the globe on fire with them :o

Cheers to you, miss!


LSSocialEngage
LSSocialEngage

@belllindsay I am in Ottawa now  - Full on Suburbia but my 10 years in TO I started at Pape & O' Connor to be exact and then  moved over to St. Clair & Spadina.