Some fun and interesting things happened in the past week.
I met Karen B for lunch.
I finaled in two writing contests.
I dug rubber bands out of Five's ear canal.
Two of those three things are social media related.
I met Karen through a blog written by Lucy March, who is the alter-ego of Lani Diane Rich. Lucy spent a year posting about her life after divorce and a whole lot of creative, funny, kind, smart women followed along. That community became known as The Betties. I was Five Boy Betty, the precursor to The Lone Woman.
Have I lost you yet? Hang in there, it gets better.
Other notable women of the Bettyverse included Julie, Delia, Lora, Kate, Deborah, Skye, Robena, ...really, almost everyone who comments on this blog because they followed me from there. And I followed them to their blogs, onto Facebook, and now Twitter. With each passing mile on the social media highway I've met new people, formed new friendships, and deepened others.
My mother used to complain that the boys always had their noses in their phones, clicking away instead of socializing. She worried that technology was isolating. I told her it was simply evolution. When I was a teenager, I could get on the kitchen phone--so named because it was attached to the kitchen wall--conference call two friends, then drag the cord all the way to the bottom of the cellar steps to sit and talk for hours.
To me, the Internet is just one giant party-line, and for my children who struggle socially, it's often their only invitation to the shindig. One has friends he talks to every day on Twitter. He has never had that in "real" life. When I explained that to my mom, it eased her mind.
One may never meet his internet friends in person, just as I will never meet all the Betties. But I have spent time with some, shared hotel rooms with others, and even gone to a Yankee game with Kris when she was visiting from Australia! But the beauty of social media is that the lack of physical contact doesn't diminish the power of the relationship. Friendships ebb and flow as people enter and exit the highway, but the world doesn't narrow, it expands.
This week I met a whole slew of ranchers and farmers on Twitter. I stumbled across a story about a blizzard that devastated South Dakota ranchers, killing upwards of 70,000 cattle and sheep, ruining countless lives. I had heard no mention of the storm in the mainstream media, unlike the intense coverage New Jersey received after Hurricane Sandy. I wanted to help the ranchers in the same way so many people across the nation had done for us, so I started tweeting about it. Each day I met more ranchers, bloggers, and writers, from Oregon, to Santa Fe, and even New York. And though I may never stand on their land, my life is better from knowing them.
I started writing because I read a Jennifer Crusie novel and wanted to do that. I've continued writing because all of you have encouraged me, held my hand when I've struggled, offered love during my darkest moments, propped me up when I've fallen. For that, I am eternally grateful to this force that harnesses hope and kindness, spreads it around the world, and creates lasting friendships from the ether.