Friday, February 4, 2011

Is Virtual Community Still Community?

I'm going with, "Yes." Yes it is.

In Tulsa, we're on our fourth in a row snow day. More of the dreaded-by-moms, hoped-for-by-children white stuff is flying through the air as I type. I'm kind of enjoying the snow days with the kids because they are so relaxed and chill. I'm also resisting the urge to curl up in a corner and weep silently for the lost time of the work week and what little shred of sanity I thought I had left.

But it has given me some time to catch up on my favorite blogs. January and February seem to hit us hard, and that truth has never been more real than this year. As I click through links posted by different and amazing, clever and thoughtful, lovely and illuminating bloggers, I'm seeing a trend. That trend makes me sad but also hopeful.

I seem to keep reading posts about depression in its various ugly forms; what it feels like, what to do about it, how to talk about it, feel about it. Of course it's troubling that so many of my online friends grapple with the pain of the dark beast. What I like about these posts, though, is that these people are talking about it. They are telling their stories about it. They are kicking back at the many-headed monster through words and the sensitive touch of virtual community.

When I talk about my "twitter friends" I get a few different responses, but the most common is a sort of understated eye roll. And I get that. I know it seems empty and virtual and what possible good can that be?

Well, I'll tell you: it's community. And it is real and organic. I'm sure that's not what everyone finds there, and it sure doesn't apply to every single person whose updates I read. But, the sense of caring and compassion I've found online is as real and true as what I experience in so-called "real life."

Keep talking, people. About the mess of life, the pain of loss, depression, divorce and infidelity. Keep talking because when you tell your story, it gives others courage to share theirs. And when they do that, trust forms and healing begins.

Okay, enough of the love-in. Back to my black and gold updates. Have a great weekend.


  1. At the very least, it appears to be therapeutic to us all, eh?

  2. Indeed, TJ. And it makes the case that we're all desperate to belong.

  3. This morning, when I was having one of my crappiest mornings in a long time, I sent out a "please send cupcakes, dealing with depression" tweet and folks came out of the woodwork with cupcakes. So yes. I can attest that these are real friends, and they are friends in deed at at time of need. And I have even met some of them in person. (I shy away from IRL, because that seems to say that online is pretend.)


  4. Sarah Louise, I love that refusal to use IRL, because what is this? Are we not really engaging in talking, sharing and caring? Is it not real because I've never seen your face? Of course it's real. And I'm glad I know you. And I'm sorry you needed cupcakes. And I'm glad you got them.