As I sat here chuckling at the latest Facebook fan page to which my friends have signed up, I realised that the advent of social networking, of whiling away time sharing what seem like life's mundanities, is actually something extremely healthy. For people like me anyway, for people who get so worried about whether they are normal and whether they fit in. The sorts of people who don't find it easy to have strong opinions or to voice them. The people who get lost in the crowd, who just go with the flow.
The aspects which so many people complain about when they tutt and say they would never facebook or blog (because obviously these things are now verbs) are exactly the reasons why I find them so wonderfully liberating.
People who don't appreciate it argue that you don't speak, so how can you feel connected? To me, that's been the most liberating aspect. It means that you don't get interrupted and you can have your turn to say what you want to say, but because the only way to be part of it is to actively communicate you have to have an opinion and you have to join in. You have to be an active participant.
People say that anonymous blogging is impersonal and you can never be sure who people are. That's been one of its beauties for me, to be recognisable I've had to be consistent. I've had to have opinions and stick with them. Sometimes it's been fraught and I've not known enough about the subject matter, sometimes I've been able to go with the flow, but because people only communicate through their words then all my words have been keenly observed and people know when I'm "winging it" and I've not been allowed to get away with it. You can't really be a passive blogger. It's pretty impossible to sit by the sidelines and not get drawn in.
The most important benefit which I've experienced though is the fact that I immediately have access to like-minded people and people who have first-hand experience of the issues which I am facing. I joined a miscarriage group on Facebook and I had instant access to many more women who knew exactly what emotions I was going through than if I'd tried to find them on my own, and because of the open nature of the group anyone could answer me who knew exactly what to say. For the first time I felt normal and reasonable and like I deserved to be as upset as I was.
I added my real thoughts to my facebook status for all my friends to see when I was struggling with Mothers' Day. Before I understood the wonder of blogging and the fact that readers are not compelled to write back to the things people post I would never have done this. But once I'd realised that posting a difficult emotion didn't force people to reply to me, I had gathered enough courage to post exactly what I was feeling and to just leave it to see what happened. I got some support from some dear friends, some friends who didn't know what had happened wrote to me and that made me feel better and some people said positive things which I needed to hear. Also people knew what I was going through and what I could in turn help them with, which has proved important in recent months when several friends have lost babies.
I've also found this same situation with my blogging. People comment on my posts who are interested in what I write, who sympathise with my feelings, who have something useful to say on the matters which I bring up. No-one is forced to be here or forced to understand my feelings or to participate.
The only people sharing my tree are the people who want to be there and who know how much my tree means to me and indeed might be able to make my life in my tree a bit better because they truly understand what it's like in my tree. Also I can offer my tree to those who truly need to come share it with me. I not only gathered strength from the ladies in the miscarriage group, but I was able to send my poems and writings to those that needed to read them to feel normal themselves, who were going through the same struggles and feeling the same awkwardness at showing any raw emotions. My tree is free to all and open to the world and this gives some purpose to the difficult times I've gone through.
It's a SUPER- community. It's the widest net a person could ever trawl. I've got followers from all over the world on my blog and a global Facebook friends list. I can "chat" to my cousin in Australia and my friends in America at either end of the day and I feel more connected to people in my life than I have ever felt, but more than that I know that I'm connected to the people in the world who can help me live a happier and more settled life. Gone are the traumas that people will never understand me, that I need to keep things to myself because people will think I'm weird, etc etc. Anonymously I can be as weird and candid as I like and it would seem that someone will identify with me.
I'm never alone in my tree, the world is with me.
(Images: neserstaz.blogspot.com & http://outdoors.webshots.com)
Storm Room - Janet Cardiff & George Bures Miller
6 years ago