A while back, I wrote about how in spite of all the technological things that keep us inside our homes, we still find ways to “chat over the back fence.” Lately, I have been struck anew with all the ways we enjoy relationships online. So, I’m adding a “part two.”
Last weekend, I was bedridden with illness. It’s lonely to be isolated and unable to leave your house or even your bed. As I huddled under my blankets, I checked my Facebook wall and saw that a dear friend was feeling the effects of her latest round of chemo. We each took a picture of ourselves under our fuzzy blankets and sent them to each other. Suddenly, I was smiling instead of feeling sorry for myself.
My husband has three sisters and three nieces scattered across the United States. It is rare that the whole clan can get together. So, on New Year’s Eve, we group-texted each other photos of the champagne that we were sipping, videos of the fireworks we were enjoying, and we laughed at old family jokes. Through our phones, we found a way to ring in the New Year together.
My husband’s cousin, Jeff, lived overseas for much of his adult life. But, because of Facebook, we remained close to him. He began posting hilarious accounts of his time spent in a foreign hospital. And, then he sent a private message telling us that he only had a few weeks left to live.
Once the word got out, his Facebook page became a gathering place for his friends and family. Jeff’s wall became deluged with posts. He got to read old classmates’ funny memories of their shared childhood pranks. He learned how much the men who had served under him admired him. He heard peers reminisce about their favorite shared travels and experiences, and he got to see old photos posted by relatives. It was as though Jeff was able to attend his own funeral and hear all the wonderful things people said about him. It was a beautiful thing to witness.
Wendy, a member of the Spirit105.3 family, “introduced” me to her sister via Email. Nikki and I both have Meniere’s Disease and we began praying for each other. Nikki then heard from a friend whose daughter, Katelyn, had just been diagnosed with cancer and she was added to our prayers. Next, Katelyn asked Nikki if she would pray for her neighbor, Jordan, who had also been diagnosed with cancer. Soon, others began sharing their needs and, before she knew it, Nikki had created an online “small group”. She began posting at 5:00pm daily on Facebook. She shares scripture verses and lists us all by name. No matter what miseries the day holds, we know at 5:00 pm we will be rewarded with God’s word and prayers from people we have never even met.
Because of technology, I have reconnected with people I never would have “found” again. I now regularly converse with grade school classmates, former co-workers, and old friends. And, I have met new friends who share the same interests or medical conditions I do. We compare notes on medicines, books and craft projects. I will never meet them in person but their friendship is invaluable to me.
The internet certainly has its dangers and its dark side. No one can deny that. But, when I see people using it as a method to love and support each other, it fills me with joy. I’m old enough to remember life before we had computers in our homes. And, while I miss some of those old ways, I love all the new ways we are finding to connect!