I love it for the people. I love it for the relationships.
That's right, I said relationships!
Seems like every time you turn around, some so-called expert is writing about the detrimental effect the Internet is having on relationships. (And I'm not talking about the spouse who's having an online fling or watching online porn rather that schtupping their own partner.)
They say that you can't really have a relationship with someone whom you've never met. And that we're getting our emotional needs met by exchanged words rather than with real people.
Bollocks. (A word I learned a decade ago from an online Brit friend.)
Online friendships are different than blood-and-bones friendships. Like a puzzle piece, they can give more of certain elements, while b-and-b friendships provide more of others.
I have a group of friends that an older friend of mine refers to as my "posse." I call them the Footprints Tribe. They couldn't be more precious to me. Any of them, I would drop anything, at any time of day or night, if they needed me.
But because I love them, I did not share with them my darkest thoughts last spring. I put them into this blog. And when I most needed someone to read my words, and reach out to me, you did. We have created a community -- communities. Many of us have intersecting circles of communities that visit our blogs. For me, it's the Unitarian, mommy, feminist and cancer-related communities, making an extended Vin diagram of relationships.
Then there are the bulletin-board relationships. Due to being a fan of the Sweet Potato Queens books, I was a member of some fan boards. When Little Warrior first got sick, I suddenly received a hand-knit baby blanket and a teddy bear from members of that board, who wanted to reach out in a tangible way. It was shocking -- breaking the fourth wall! -- but altogether wonderful.
A group version of Pen Pals are the email discussion lists. There is a list out there for parents of children who have or had Wilms' Tumor. What a resource! Life-saving and soul-saving. Among these folks, I could share experiences, ask for help, compare notes. No one else in the world could truly understand what we were living through ... but they could. We celebrate together every clear scan, we cry together with every notification of a relapse.
Day or night, you all are out there. At 3 am, in my jammies, I visit you, reading your blogs and catching up on your posts. When someone disappears, we worry. When they return, we rejoice.
I love the Internet.