I was getting a dose of the good ol' mother guilt on the phone the other day, about not getting in touch with an old family friend who moved to the same city as us awhile ago. As part of that deftly delivered mother guilt, all packaged up as what is good for me and tied with a bow of caring concern, was the suggestion that it is unhealthy, imbalanced, anti social etc. to have more friends on the computer than I do in "real life".
After I got off the phone, I was feeling a little growly and complaining to the DH. He, having a much cooler head than I, suggested that my Mom's concerns are borne from simple lack of knowledge about what computers now are and can do. I mean, we just got her emailing a little while ago. How could she possibly grasp the intimacy and immediacy that online communication has become?
I used the computer primarily for researching, gaming and keeping in touch with a few long distance friends through email up until a couple of years ago. Just before Deathly Hallows was due to come out, I found myself driven through desperate, DESPERATE need to seek out social contact on the computer. You see...I had no one to talk Harry Potter with. (OK, yes, N.E.R.D. It says so right in my profile. I'm not trying to fool anyone here.) Sure I knew people who also liked HP, but no one who wanted to spend an hour discussing the minute clues about which way Snape's character would go in the end, or hear me wax eloquent on my theories about the Draught of Living Death. (um, yeah. Way off on that one. ;) So I joined the Leaky Lounge, which led to Pottercast, which led to this video:
And I thought, who is this hilarious 15 year old and who is he talking to? It turns out he was Hank Green, a 20-something environmentalist and musician, doing a year long vlogging project with his even more hilarious (sorry Hank) brother John, an award winning YA author. Their videos are goofy, sometimes almost unbearably awkward, but warm and clever, and best of all they celebrate thoughtfulness, intelligence and "decreasing worldsuck". I eventually stumbled onto the forum that they created for their friends and fans (nerdfighters, hoo ha!), with no intention to post (I am not a joiner!), but found I just couldn't resist putting my own 2 cents into the conversations about literature, culture and world events that were taking place there.
When Hank and John ended their vlogging project (although they still make videos, just not daily), they set up a ning site for the more than 20,000 people of all ages and nationalities, that their call to honour brains, enthusiasm and just being nice had attracted. Not wanting to lose touch with the people I had met, I joined my first social networking site, and I met some new friends. Not "friends"...in quotation marks because I only know them on the computer, but friends who I am in contact with almost every day, who I have taken deep into my heart and my emotional landscape, who I share my worries and my triumphs with. Friends who see me for exactly who I am and like me anyway. It isn't just geography or time and chance bringing us together, it is common tastes, humour, purpose or values...or maybe just a commonality in how we see the world and ourselves. Either way, there is a beautiful sense of solidarity there, instead of a constant struggle to relate.
It seems I have spent my entire life nodding politely while other people talk hockey or hand bags or right wing politics. It has always been really difficult to find people who "speak my language", and care about the same things as I do. I have found some kindred spirits along the way, for whom I am deeply grateful, but there has been a lot of chaff with that wheat. I am now a grown up, with a family and responsibilities and little free time, and I won't spend my social energy on laboriously trying to will common ground into existence. I will spend it with my people, in my community, which just happens to be mostly on the world wide web.
To my gerds (girl nerds!), my old bosom pals and my new blogging and art community friends, I appreciate you. I appreciate you taking the time to read this and/or comment. I appreciate every word of friendship and encouragement. I appreciate every nerdy conversation about books and art, ourselves, politics, kids, Aspergers...Harry Potter. ;) Knowing that there are other people out there who share my views, my tastes, my fears and my joys has renewed a once flagging sense of optimism in the world. *sniff* I love you guys, I really do. I wish for everyone to have such a warm, supportive, inspiring group of people in their lives, whether right there in their own backyards or spanning several time zones and continents like my community does.
April Art Journal Pages
16 hours ago