I first wandered into a chat room circa 1996.
The internet was different then — simpler. But, we were already defining a new way to connect and a new language (brb, ttfn, lol, wtf) that would carry humanity and our digital connections into a new age of what would become social media.
I don’t remember a damn soul I chatted with in those early web days, but that didn’t stop me from trying again and again.
I landed on MySpace in August 2006
… Facebook in June 2007
… Twitter in February 2009
… Spotify in July 2011
… Instagram in August 2011
… Tumblr in March 2013
… and LinkedIn in May 2013
Somewhere in there or between then and now, I took a spin on Google+, Vine, About.me and a handful of other networks, sites, or apps. Some defunct. Others — forgettable.
And, of course, I blogged. For a good ten years, I waxed poetic, spewed my thoughts and cultivated connections through Living a Quotable Life, a now disabled (though absolutely backed up), personal blog. It was the height of the blogosphere.
We all had something to say.
It was also the height of connecting with like-minded humans on Twitter… before it got too loud, obnoxious, and political.
I dropped a whopping one tweet and two retweets this year.
In 2021, that total was a combined four — including this gem from Feb. 8, 2021:
Is this thing on?
*breaks Twitter hiatus*
I did not, in fact, break my Twitter hiatus, but I can’t help wondering if I’m missing out on something.
After all, I have met and cultivated some incredible connections across cyberspace in this wild ride of technological innovation since the dawn of the millennium. Many of these individuals, I am honored to call, “friend.” True friends — not the pseudo-acquaintance can-you-see-me-in-your-feed Facebook friend. Some of us have met up in person. Others I hope to meet one day.
Once we get past the predators, ghosting, catfishing — blah, blah, blah, new words for horrible people and their horrible actions, blah, blah, blah — scoffing at friendships or love matches found and tended in digital environments has become blasé.
Many of us cherish at least one other like human we have found online.
This week, after fifteen years, one of these humans made their way through the euphemistic “my neck of the woods.” Although, in my case, it’s not too far off. There are many trees here. Time was short, but the connection was instantaneous. We were unapologetically open and anything but awkward. Our conversations never missed a beat.
We rambled on like old friends occasionally parted rather than virtual acquaintances newly familiar.
This friendship based on similar life experiences, intellectual interests, and a seriously corny sense of humor has merit. It is real. It is as real as lifelong friendships grown from childhood, nurtured through tumultuous teenage years, and allowed to bloom in adulthood.
And it saved me.
It’s been almost three years of all things pandemic. I’m broken and beaten down… numb… and alone in the crowd. Nurturing connections, old or new, is somehow more difficult and I feel pushed to the outskirts of almost every relationship in my life. I am a pretty terrible “out of sight, out of mind” friend. That’s on me. I know and I’m working on being better.
After this week, I’m a little more awake…
all thanks to a connection I made on Twitter in 2007.