Tuesday, October 13, 2009

around the table and around the world

Boy, am I dopey today.

We had our Thanksgiving dinner last night - turkey, mashed potatoes and stuffing (probably the best I have ever had) smothered in gravy. A beautiful salad with a basil and feta dressing. Lots of wine. And Guinness chocolate cake, pumpkin pie, whipped cream, ice cream and chocolate sauce for dessert (I don't think anybody actually had all of those things).

And a truly lovely group of people.

It was perfect.

Today, I am trying to make notes for a presentation I am giving on Thursday. I need to talk about my transformation from individual cancer patient to a member of a vibrant and supportive community.

I had lots of thoughts about this on the week end, when I really didn't have time to write them down. Today, my brain seems to have been replaced with mashed potatoes and gravy (Mmm. Leftovers).

It's an interesting question, though. My online community (which consists of folks I have met in real life and others I probably will only ever know online) has been a key source of information and support over the years.

So, help me out here. What role does your online community play in your life? How did you come to build these virtual relationships? Does the internet help sustain relationships with friends?

I'm not asking you to do my work for me (really, I swear). I'm just curious how you react to the words "network" and "community" and how they apply to your online life.


bibliogrrl said...

Huge. *HUGE*

Ive been online in one form or another for 20 years. Since back in the days of 600 baud modems and BBS's.

This is why my family is really supportive of the fact that I can mention my online friends and they don't bat an eye. Some of my oldest friends I know through the computer.

I use LiveJournal, Twitter, Flickr and to a lesser extent FaceBook and MySpace (and so many other virtual spaces) to connect with people and maintain friendships.

I have friends all over the world. I have had friends stay with me from all over the country (I'm in Chicago), and places as far flung as Australia.

I wouldn't have it any other way. I get really insulted when people have referred to my 'creepy internet friends,' because they are obviously hanging out in the wrong places. There are creepy people online, just as there are anywhere else. But I wouldn't know half of the amazing, interesting people I know if it weren't for the internet.

bibliogrrl said...


I used it for fundraising after I decided to shave my head when my mom started losing her hair from chemo.

I had a lot of people I didn't even know help spread the word, and at *least* 20% of the money I raised was from people I know online, or wouldn't know if it wasn't for the internet.

Also, Jeanne Sather was amazing helping me out when I had questions about charities, and just general questions about my mom's treatment and the like.

And my mom has been blogging.

Yep. The internet? IMPORTANT. :D

MamaBunny said...

My online community consists of other moms.

After my daughter was born in 2004 and while I nursed her, I often had a laptop next to me so I could browse the Internet. I stumbled upon a community forum via a commercial baby-gear website; it looked interesting and informative, and I joined a bunch of boards to read and post to. That led to another online parenting community (Maya's Mom, now defunct; but that's where I met Laurie!).

It started as- I like to share my experiences and offer advice, to help another new mom in the way that my in-real-life new moms support group helped me. And it was nice to get and to send friend invitations; I got acquainted with women from various parts of the world (though mostly in US); we shared interests, a goofy sense of humor, etc. We'd pass notes of encouragement, read and comment on each other's journals, ... share the parenting journey. It's nice to be connected to a virtual community and to have online friends, when in real life, my friends and I are living our busy lives and not often in synch to call each other up or correspond by email.

PS: Laurie, I had a dream about you last night; I don't remember what it was about, just that you were in it!

Brenda said...

I feel like I need a lot more than a comment box to respond to this. . . . I started my blog before I had cancer but wierdly enough, my readership about doubled when I announced I had cancer. I blog about a lot more than cancer, but I feel like its a place where people can keep up with my life and be informed about my illness without feeling intrusive.

I love my online community of friends. I love social networking. When I go a couple of days without tweeting, I get friendly reminders from friends.

I might add that I have lived all over the Americas so I FB and tweet in both english and spanish, though I only blog in English.

I like that I can get others in to my life by writing. Then when I am face to face, I can talk about them, because I am really interested in other people.

I would like to say so much more, sigh! Lets just say I love blogging, tweeting and FB. :)

laurie said...

These are all so inspiring and I relate to all of you. I wish I'd asked this question ages ago.

Anonymous said...

I have an unusual interest -- Hindi films (aka Bollywood). Believe it or not, there's a whole bunch of other people like me scattered about the globe, i.e. non-Indian fans of Indian films.

Without fan blogs, where people list their favourite (and not so favourites; and forums, where we discuss everything from feminist critiques of the more highbrow films to trashy gossip about our favourite stars, I would not have been able to sustain this interest.

There are people from all over the world and from all walks of life who share my interest (obsession is more like it). I now "know" fellow fans from basically all the continents, a whole bunch of different languages, and a great variety of cultural and socio-economic backgrounds. This community is totally frivolous, I suppose, but it's also kind of amazing.

When I was growing up, I never would have conceived of being able to have this type of connection with people from so many far-flung parts of the globe.


laurie said...

Margaret - that is so cool! thanks for sharing. I love it.