Take Me Out To The Ball Game!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

This One's For You Systems-Change Lady......

  This past week I posted on Facebook about about a comment that a speaker made at a meeting that we had just attended that night.  The meeting topic was systems change as it relates to the disability community and at some point the subject of social media came up and she made the (what she thought was) an off-hand comment about not needing to be on Facebook because she had, "plenty of real friends and I don't need to go looking for new ones in cyberspace".  Wow.  That was a mouthful and my husband and I were more than a little stunned as we sat there in our seats.  And me being me, I had to come right home and write about it.

(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.

  So I began to pray over her situation and intercede on her behalf and I just asked the Lord what HE wanted for their family's life and my friend S did the same thing.  Before long L and I were were having conversations about where they "could" live, and what, if any, were the geographic restrictions for them to relocate.  Turns out her husband was completely free to move about the country to anywhere they pleased.  So me, being me....I said, "Well then, you're moving to Tacoma, WA so you can be near S!! I know you've never met her....you haven't even met me!, but you'll LOVE her....you two will hit it off and you'll have at least one friend and your kids will LOVE S's daughter and her older kids....It'll be great!"  And you know what??  S and I banded together and combed Craigslist and Zillow for possible houses and neighborhoods for them, S went out on scouting trips to possible houses and you know what? Last September 19th L's family pulled up with a moving truck and a trailer to within three miles of S's house to a house they had never seen in person and S's husband and a group of guys from their church were there to help them unpack.  

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.


EnriqueFreeque said...

So cool! We can forge real friendships in cyber space if that is what we choose - and isn't it kind of silly to say "I have enough friends" - because you never know when another friend might be just what we need! Thanks Gigi!

This will say it is from Enrique Freeque but it is really from me - Linda (Freeque!)

The Last Six Brain Cells said...

Thanks Linda! I appreciate your comment and I whole heartedly agree! I for one, am ALWAYS open to new friendships, regardless of whence they come!! If they'll have me, I'll have them!!