(here it is: (Thurs.p.m. April 12) Just went to a public policy mtng in Our Town (public policy as it effects people w/ disabilities), where the person leading it, a major player in state-level systems change, disparaged and impugned social media, saying she has plenty of friends in real life and she doesn't need to look for new ones here on FB. Turns out she's active here in FB land and had more than 350 "friends" (wonder how many are "real"). Dear Systems Change Lady, It doesn't matter what you think about it, social media IS an unprecedented phenomenon that has repeatedly proven itself to be a major player on the WORLD stage and lives HAVE been changed and SAVED. In the world of disability, social media is helping forge authentic and intimate friendships and it is creating dynamic mentoring relationships in which our children's lives are enriched and on really good days, our sanity as parents is restored. Thank you. That is all.)
Okay, so that was my post and I received a lot of positive feedback as a result, which was really nice. But it got me thinking about this whole "real friendships in the cyber world" thing and I wanted to share this AMAZING story. A true story...... So this is for you Systems-Change Lady-who-doesn't-think-she-has-the room/time-in-her-life-to-go-"hunting for cyber-friends":
A couple of years ago I was having a rough go of it with one of our kids (ya know, autism behaviors aren't all they're cracked up to be). So I found some group on Facebook and put out a feeler to find another mom who might want to chat with me sometime (think, "help, I need a friend, NOW!!"). A woman answered my cry for help and we started instant messaging with one another and right away we found out that we had quite a few things in common, not the least of which was that one of our kids was on the autism spectrum, but the most important was that both of us were Believers and loved the Lord. And so began a wonderful friendship that grew and grew. We instant messaged one another, shared photos of our kids, shared our home schooling philosophies and strategies, our parenting strategies and values, etc.., etc.....and we laughed and joked with each other ALOT. We both love to and NEED to laugh ALOT to keep our sanity! Pretty soon I was telling her about my wonderful and AMAZING friend who lives up in the Northwest, and how it sounded like they probably had quite a bit in common too, including the fact that they both had older children in their twenties and they both had experience with neuro-development theory and practices, and last but not least, all three of us also have kids with Down syndrome. So I hooked up my new friend "L" with my amazing link-to-sanity-friend "S" via FB (using initials here in a vain attempt to protect the innocents) and before long they too were communicating with one another. Now, fast-forward about a year. My friend L had been sharing with me that she was completely "over" living in the state where she had been living with her family for years and years. She was geographically and socially isolated, they didn't know any other homeschooling families, they didn't have any authentic "go to" friends in the community and she was really, really tired of being alone. So they wanted a change in geography for everyone's sanity-sake.
In December I had to make the devastatingly sad journey "home" to the NW to attend the funeral of my beloved nephew Jason. Within two hours of getting off the plane, S, L & I were sitting in an Applebee's restaurant, all three of us in the same room for the FIRST TIME EVER and it was like we had known each other FOREVER. The occasion for my arrival was of course horrible, and we all acknowledged that. They were there for me in the sadness and grief, but before long the jokes were flyin', and we were laughing and carrying on together like it was as natural as breathing. The only reason we even left the restaurant was that L's kids were getting worried about dinner (like, was anyone going to be there to make it?!).....we had held her captive ALL afternoon after all!! Now fast forward a few months.......Last Wednesday afternoon I called S to check in with her for the day and she had four of L's kids at her house and they were making a birthday cake for L while she was out running errands with a couple of their other kids before they all headed out of town for L's birthday the next day. It was going to be a big surprise for L and all the kids at S's house was so excited. So when L came by to pick up her kids there was a surprise party waiting for her........and I couldn't be happier for her........Well I guess it would be pretty amazing to actually BE THERE in person to share in the party, but being on the other end of the phone was the next best thing.........And that feels pretty real to me.