Monday, January 10, 2011

The power of the internet.

It's crazy. It really is. The internet will connect you with so many people in so many ways. Ways that you really didn't think was possible. The internet will also show you many different things, things that you stumble upon through a friend of a friend of a friend of a friend and so on. Yes, there are some hilarious things, but the things that stand out most to me are the bonds I create with virtual strangers, and the stories that touch me deep inside.

Sometimes I feel a little silly when I talk about people I have met online. Through Chat boards, through facebook, and most recently through twitter. When you are on a site every day and you are talking with the same people you start to get drawn into their lives and you think about them and only want the best for them. I have been a part of a few chat boards. Last year though there was a huge issue that came up and I lost the support of a board I had been a part of for about 5 years. I have seen these women go through so much and have so many happy moments. There were quite a few I had actually met and became friends with. We talked on a regular basis. I was crushed when I lost them. I don't want to go into the full details here, but some days I still feel sad about this. I still want to know them and still want to cheer them on when there is exciting news and cheer them up when they need it. To this day I don't understand how I could be turned on, and viewed as a monster when I wasn't.

But, I digress, I am on another board as well and there are so many touching stories. Some people just don't seem to understand that I do care about all those strangers out in internet land. I do care and do think about them when I am not talking to them. I hope they get their car fixed, land the promotion they were up for, get the answers they are looking for when they have a sick child, finally enjoy a vacation they have been planning forever.

But back to my original point, I have been connected, most of the times through blogs to so many things that pain my heart and make me want to reach through the computer and hug the authors. So many exciting things as well. These are people that without the internet I probably would know nothing about.

In the past year or so, I have followed a family in the tragic loss of their young daughter to cancer. I follow a father tragically singled immediately following the birth of his daughter and how he coped and tried to be the best parent possible. I have read about a pregnant mother, distraught because her young child passed away from unknown causes when she had done everything she could to keep him safe. Recently I read an extremely sad blog post about a 1 1/2 year old passing away because of a heavy dresser landing on him. I've followed the blog of a couple who were devastated to find that their home had been taken from them by a fire and they slowly had to put the pieces back together. And just these past few days, of an incredibly strong woman I met through Twitter losing her husband so quickly and unexpectedly. Even though there are very few details it is Heartbreaking and something that makes me want to cry at my computer, find her and squish her in hugs and try to take some of her pain away.

The internet is a powerful thing to me, and I feel it brings me so much closer to many people I would never have a chance to know. In the past year I have reached out more on Twitter. I have made a few good friends that I know I could pass hours of time with and it would seem like nothing. These are people that I speak with every day or so and know about their life, and their kids and their frustrations. People that if they were in trouble I would love to be able to help out if I could. People that my husband thinks i'm crazy for when I mention meeting up with them. Yes, I know the world is also full of scary crazy non trusting individuals, but sometimes the people you meet online aren't horrible monsters. They can end up being the best friend you've ever had. Even though you didn't meet them in person doesn't mean they can't mean that much to you. These friendships are important as well and can make a huge difference in your life. We should all hold on tight and make sure to keep these friendships as much as possible.

I want everyone reading this to go and tell an online friend just how much they mean to you. Let them know that you will be there for them if they need you. Reach out to them and make a more meaningful relationship. You just never know where it will lead you. You never know, just saying hi and telling them that you enjoy talking to them might make their day. The internet is full of lots of people who feel like they don't have anyone to relate to other than a group of virtual strangers. So go, tell them how you feel and that you do care.

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