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.