Sunday, February 05, 2012
I've had a busy evening of chatting with a few friends online. OK, more than just a few. This evening I took part in a "Deck-date" with Crystal Chappell on Twitter. She calls it that because, like many of us, she uses Tweetdeck. She sets a time and lets everybody know she will be on Twitter and ready to chat. I can only imagine how fast the tweets must fly by as hundreds of fans start typing all at once. And she replies to as many as she can, answering whatever questions are thrown at her. I love that she wants to connect directly to her fans.
I signed into Facebook briefly this evening - I think I've been avoiding it, afraid I'll see the dreaded new Timeline format I haven't bothered to learn about yet. But I like to check and see what's new with family and friends whether I take the time to post something new myself or not. Tonight I was surprised to see that Jill Lorie Hurst was on Facebook, too, so we had a quick chat. She held me accountable for my comment on my previous blog about writing something new every day and asked if I'd posted a new blog yet. So here I am. She is a wonderfully effective encourager and her belief in me has had a much greater impact on me than she realizes. And yes, Jill, I will write that book. Eventually.
Jill and I connected on Twitter and Facebook long before we met in person when my husband and I took our daughter to New York City for her 18th birthday and Jill spent the day with us. Today I was on Twitter discussing plans for another trip to NYC. Again I'll be meeting people I've been chatting with daily for at least a year or two. I'm always amazed at the way these friendships develop with people from all over the world.
It's been over two years since I blogged about the importance of these online friendships when I wrote about Cathie Wagner. During a time of grief friends who had never met face to face could offer each other support and comfort any time of the day or night on Twitter. Just a quick comment or two and the knowledge that someone else is there to help carry our load can help us feel a little less alone in our struggles and give us a little hope.
Tonight, I saw this play out on Twitter again. I noticed that one of my friends hadn't shown up in our usual Saturday night chat for Crystal Chappell's fan club and after the chat was over I found out why. My friend's father had passed away today. As soon as she shared the news I saw our friends, one after another, offering their condolences, prayers and words of comfort. I prayed that she would feel all the love and know that we're here for her if there's anything we can do. I'm sure she has friends and family in her life to support her, as I did when my mother passed away. But how well I recall every word of encouragement I received from my online friends during my own time of grief.
I know some people think that connecting through social media actually makes us more disconnected from real life relationships. But I think it's like any long distance communication. It is what we make it.
During the last couple of years of my mother's life I called her frequently. We wouldn't have a long conversation because it tired her to talk and made her start coughing. But I could talk with her a little about things we both enjoyed on TV or ask her a question or two about things only she remembered. I tried to always give her a little laugh or at least make her smile since I couldn't be there to give her a hug.
In these conversations with my mother we said what we really wanted to say, which we didn't always do in person. My mother had always a very busy lady. If I wanted to talk to her about something I often had to follow her around the house while she was doing some chore or other and we were frequently interrupted, either by someone else or by our own random thoughts. We talked about what to have for supper and the latest sale at the mall and whether or not the plants needed watering instead of saying "I've missed you", "You look beautiful today", "I'm proud of you". But when I called her during those last couple of years, I said what I wanted to say and she focused on what I was saying and we connected in a different way. We made it count.
Twitter and Facebook are just tools of communication. It's up to us to decide how to use them.
I hope I always use them to really connect to my world.
I hope I make a difference.