People make statements about social media disconnecting us from real life but our use of social media is all about connecting with others.
I wouldn’t have met Marky without a facebook group about Jeff Buckley. I wouldn’t have friend requested him if he hadn’t typed the sweetest and most emotional post about people being connected through music… something in his words touched me. We didn’t even meet for years as we had busy lives in different countries but we became best friends through the internet. We shared so many in-jokes and giggles and so much of our lives through messages long before we met and fell in love in person. He was the first person I told when my dad was diagnosed with cancer and he was my biggest support when my brother was in hospital. After we met, we still had to do long distance and the internet let us keep intimacy alive even when over 170 miles apart. Since he died, I often watch people on trains smiling down at their phones. Where others see disconnect, I know those people are talking to their person, fostering new friendships or reuniting old ones.
In the worst time of my life I have been able to turn to the internet for support and community. I feel so thankful to have social media now to write about him, to share photos and express when the pain feels overwhelming and it feels like I cannot go on. When grief leaves me isolated, I can still reach out for help. I found my home in the charity Widowed and Young… this support group is a little bit of magic… finding people going through the same thing has saved my life. Our loss is understood within each other and we support each other through every part of life that grief touches (everything). It feels like a place where everyone ‘gets it’ and you don’t have to explain the nuances of grief or defend your grief to those who don’t understand… you can just share as little or as much as you want and there is always someone else who has been there. We make amazing friendships and build new foundations together in a life that none of us wanted, and that is something so beautiful.
This is before I have even mentioned how many amazing, beautiful, kind and empathetic people I met through online activism. I have met many best friends this way who inspire me greatly. Some dismiss this kind of activism and label it ‘armchair activism’ as if it isn’t worth anything but they’re wrong to do so. People organise rallies through social media, create protests, debate and find new and inventive ways to help.
We create friendships and love through the internet. We create unity and a sense of belonging. We are living in the real world and this helps us through it and connects us to people we may never have met, issues we may never have thought about and experiences we may never have been able to have without it.