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 because it’s hard to separate the chaff from the grain. The grain is the ability to find common ground with people. Something that can be a challenge in the “real world” in two critical situations:
1) You have a trait – from silly to serious – that you think is isolating. Or maybe it is something that 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 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 schools brings us into more diverse communities, but the internet has helped me cross geographical, economical, sexual, gender and religious barriers I’m not sure I would have found ways to cross otherwise.
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 baby 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. Her life is richer because of that.
I think that’s why when all of the technical chaos happened with this space when it was self-hosted, I was determined to find a new home for it because it is the centralized location of so many of my connections. This is my space so I can say the strange thing: “The juvenile book series Wings Of Fire is too intense for me.” and I know it will be met with grace and understanding. No one here is going to shame more for being stressed out by a fantasy book written for children.
(THERE IS JUST SO MUCH DRAGON MURDER. IF THOSE BOOKS WERE ABOUT HUMANS THEY WOULD NOT BE IN THE JUVENILE SECTION.)
So here’s to getting my blog back and having my safe space again to write my serious and my silly.
And here’s to my new BFF Simone Biles and her journey at the Olympics. I know my support as a fellow fried-pickle lover is what will bring her to the podium.