I have run UrbanMoms for 8 years and for every single one of those 8 years there has been a part of the population who poo-poo the whole concept of connection online. These naysayers believe that “community” is not possible on the internet. That those of us who say “online friendships” are fooling ourselves, that friendships can only exist in person.
The support and love I received from people online was just as real and just as meaningful as the real life gestures.
The thing I’ve noticed is that most of these people don’t spend time online. They don’t read blogs and get invested in the author’s life. They hear things or read things and they judge out of fear and ignorance. One such person spent an hour lecturing me on the evils of Facebook and why he wouldn’t let his children get accounts (they both had profiles on the sly). He had never once been on Facebook.
When I wrote on my blog about my mom’s cancer and her journey until her death nearly 4 years ago the support and love I received from people online was just as real and just as meaningful as the real life gestures. Recently I watched this same sense of community spring to life online in a much bigger way as the city of Calgary reacted to the devastating floods in their city. They rallied together and so much of that was coordinated online.
Earlier this week I had the pleasure of hosting many of the UrbanMoms bloggers and staff for The UrbanMoms Retreat at Blue Mountain near Collingwood, Ontario. Most of these folks I have met once or twice but a few of them I hadn’t. In fact, Amanda has written for UrbanMoms for close to 4 years and we had never met in person until this week. Did she feel like a friend? Absolutely!
I feel connected to this community and the people in it in a way I don’t with many people in real life.
I feel connected to this community and the people in it in a way I don’t with many people in real life. We share parts of our lives online that the hustle and bustle of our busy lives doesn’t allow us to share with many others. We are connected through a sense of common ground and a pride for our online home. We “get it” in a way that our offline friends don’t. We share something that only we, the UrbanMoms Team, can and that is something special.
I am so grateful for these friendships. We were like a group of old friends getting together after years away. We simply fell into a comfortable step together, laughing and talking and staying up far too late.
I know there are ugly things online. I see them everyday. But those people who avoid the internet or dismiss the value are missing out on an opportunity to share in some amazing relationships. Imagine having friends that you connect with almost daily scattered across the country (and often the world) of varying ages and circumstances? People you would never in a million years have had the opportunity to know? My world has expanded and I am definitely better for knowing them.
Do you have close friends you have met online?
*Group shot Photo Credit to the amazing Jennifer Gilbert