NOTE: My site misszoot.com is finally back up and running in a safe spot. It’s not cleaned up, there’s still spam links in places and none of the entries have pictures but it’s there and it’s safe again. I have no idea how to move your subscriptions over there though, so for now I’m cross-posting in both places. I also need to move everything I wrote here over there, so this transition phase may take awhile. Thanks.
Simone Biles and I have something in common.
There’s this thing the internet and social media has given us that I don’t think gets talked about enough. It’s the ability to find common ground with people. And that - in and of itself is not such a challenge in the real world except in the two critical situations where the internet is a gift.
1) You have a trait - from silly to serious - that you think is isolating, or maybe is hard to talk about or maybe just something rare. I found this in everything from my fertility struggles of yesteryear to my love of school supplies. From my acute anxiety responses taking left turns to my obsession with YA fiction. Many things that I would have never found a lot of kinship with restricted to the real world, but on the internet I can keep myself surrounded in pockets of like-minded people.
2) You are finding a connection, big or small, with someone whose life you would have never overlapped with without the internet. Oh, a young black elite athlete heading towards the olympics? What would she and I have in common. OH YEAH, FRIED PICKLES. And while that is a silly example, there are plenty of not-so-silly examples. I’ve built friendships with people from all walks of life thanks to the internet, people I wouldn’t have found connections with trapped in my frustratingly homogenous neighborhood. I’m lucky that work and my kid’s school brings us into more diverse communities, but the internet has helped me cross geographical, economical, sexual, gender and religious barriers I’m not sure
The problem lies in the fact that these connections also work for dangerous communities who might have fizzled out if they had geographical or economic barriers before. And - these connections are open to people with terrible intentions. Like the time I wrote about how I hadn’t given my daughter a bath in 2 weeks and someone hypothesized that maybe - if that was the kind of mother I was going to be - fertility problems were a good thing.
But I really want to constantly remember the good. The connections I’ve made because of this blog, or because of Twitter or instagram, that have widened my world view and most importantly…made me feel less alone. I am never alone in the traditional sense, but sometimes my mental health makes me feel lonely. When I’m really spiraling I’ll often just throw something up on Twitter. Something I sometimes delete when I’m stable but which always helps me in the moment because I have so many Twitter friends with similar mental health challenges and so the echoes of “I’ve been there! It sucks,” or, “Hang in there! I know that pain!” remind me that while loneliness creeps into my bones in those moments…I’m never alone in what I’m feeling. Someone out there has felt it too, and has survived it to tell the tale.
I mean, Simone Biles now knows she has a 45-year old white lady in Alabama on her side about fried pickles. You know her life is better because of that.