Five years ago, John and I lived in a sticks and brick house in the U.S. southwest. It was then that my nephew Marcus, who was just graduating high school, showed me how to text message. Just before Marcus taught me to text message, my hairdresser Paula had suggested that I may have become bored with myself after I complained of an overall general feeling of boredom with life.
Learning something new definitely made life more interesting. It felt great to track my nephew from Arizona where he had visited with me and John back to his home in North Carolina by text messaging with him through airports and down highways. During Marcus’ visit he also exposed me to Myspace and YouTube. I must admit that I did not immediately catch on to the appeal of either web space.
Success with text messaging spurred me on to further explore social networking. After a brief relationship with Myspace, I moved on to Facebook. At the time, Facebook was touted as the virtual social network center for thirty-somethings. I found many friends and coworkers of that age group there.
Before finding others on Facebook though, I was amazed at how naming my interests and likes, my tastes in authors and music and being forced to learn who actually sings that song that I love listening to on my way to and from work each day made me feel more interesting to myself. Facebook had become a mirror, a mirror that I had not looked into for a very long time. Who would have known that the first step in social networking was to network with oneself? I realized that I had interests, passions even as I simultaneously confirmed that I lived in an amazing world.
Text messaging with younger relatives back in North Carolina became common for me after Marcus taught me how. I was no longer lonely for them. The text messaging experience was akin to walking down a street and brushing up against someone who was walking in another direction. A time for the briefest hello, how are you, I’m interested in your life, I still love you. Then letting go with a spontaneous release from feelings of loneliness for and fear about a particular loved one.
The computer as a tool and the internet as a resource is incredible and wonderful. Over the course of a few hours I can write a personal letter to a friend, have light touches with several other friends, educate myself on almost any topic, enjoy my and others’ photography and shop for anything.
Five years after learning to text message and after jumping into several social networking worlds, I am still amazed and delighted by these tools and am so very thankful for the connectedness with others that they have offered to our RV lifestyle for the past three years. One can create a virtual community that is at least a good temporary replacement for the physical people and places that I need to have in my life.