Musings of a Marfan Mom

How Social Media Has Changed Me

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Today I’m writing as part of Mama Kat’s Writers’ Workshop, prompt #5: How has social media changed you?

Social media has made my life richer. It has allowed me to forge relationships with women from all across the world. I used to mock the idea of Twitter. Now it has become one of my lifelines as a stay-at-home mom. I miss the intense conversations I would have in college: the late nights discussing religion with my roommates, debating the healthcare reform platforms of various presidential candidates in grad school. Taking care of two kids and spending much of my time driving to doctor appointments doesn’t leave a lot of time for adult conversation. Over Twitter though, I can discuss educational philosophy or mental health policy or feminist issues in medicine. If I have free time and want to chat, chances are someone else does too. This has kept me sane.

There are some who differentiate between between “social media friendships” and “real life friendships.” I disagree with such a distinction. It was women I met online through blogging that helped convince me to have a VBAC and women I met through NMF Connect who checked in with me throughout my pregnancy. The impact of them on my life has been immeasurable. I certainly got more sleep before I became involved online.

This week the power of social media hit me particularly hard. One of my girlfriends died over the weekend. I’ve been devastated. We’ve been friends for almost three years, since I was pregnant with M. and she was pregnant with her son. We’ve talked about pregnancy, relationships, surgery, the limitations of our physical bodies, early intervention services, and death. We’ve texted late into the night and exchanged Christmas cards and pictures of our kids.

What we hadn’t done was ever meet in person.

In this time that I’ve become more involved in the blogging, Twittering, and Facebooking communities my views on relationships have changed. I’ve come to realize that seeing a person in the flesh is not a necessary component for a good, honest friendship, though of course it doesn’t hurt. My friendship with R was not any less real because we met online and lived across the country from each other. My pain with her passing is no less intense. I am so grateful for the opportunity that I had to know her, and she’s changed me for the better.

Rest in peace my friend.

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8 Comments

  1. Isn’t it amazing how we can develop such wonderful relationships with people we’ve never met in real life? I wish I had been blogging when my kids were smaller and I was at home. It would have made the days so much better for me.

    I’m so sorry for your loss.

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  2. I, too, find that I have met and made new friends here and developed a bond. Personally, I feel less shy about meeting and greeting new people with my keyboard. When possible I have traveled and personally met with them and it’s been great fun. So very sorry for your loss, Maya. Do you have common friends with her with which to share stories and celebrate her life?

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  3. You know, its funny you and I knew one another in high school through Caitlyn but now I feel as if I can call you a friend because we can chat on Twitter or read each others blogs and I love that.

    So sorry to hear about your friend.

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    marfmom Reply:

    I was thinking the same thing the other day! I’ll let you know next time I’m back in Ohio so the 3 of us can try to get together :)

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  4. So sorry for your loss… It is hard to really explain the kind of bonding and friendships that are formed over Twitter.
    I joke that it is obsessive, but it is like a lifeline.

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  5. My condolences on the loss of R. I’m sure it is a difficult time for you and I’m sure you miss her already.
    I couldn’t agree more that my “online” friends are just the same as my “in-person” friends! What would I have done without all of you on NMFconnect?! And, I love how it doesn’t matter to most of us that if we’ve met, it may have been only once or twice! I have bonds like that with twin moms as well — even though they may live in a neighboring town, it can be hard to get out of the house with young twins, so we connect alot on-line.
    I always love your blog posts — gets me thinkin’! :)

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  6. Hi Maya –
    So sorry for your loss. I couldn’t agree more with you about friendship. For me it’s the same with friends I knew “in person” but haven’t seen in many years. If I keep up with them on FB, email, texts, etc., the friendships stay real and current for me just as much as people I see regularly in person. And loss is loss. I lost a friend this year that I hadn’t seen in 15 years. I was still terribly sad. Hugs to you.

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  7. Oh Maya that’s terrible!! I’m so sorry. I can honestly say I would be devastated to experience the loss of friends I’ve made online. You’re right. There is no distinction.

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