In order for this to make any sense, you need to read this article — Rainbow: Online Friendships Have Unspoken Language.
Okay, I know some of you — probably most of you — won’t bother to read that so I’ll summarize. Rainbow postulates that our instant connectedness via social media (Facebook, Twitter, and the like) can indeed build some genuine and real relationships, contrary to what some are saying, that is, that social media “is making us bad at friendship.” She writes about a friend named Bethany and their relationship.
There you have it, in a nutshell. I still think you should read the original article.
In a Facebook discussion of the article, my name was thrown into the mix, saying that blogs allow us to build community with one another even though we are miles apart. Oh, how true that is! I have found, through the internet, a passel of people walking the Alzheimer’s Road. Through the internet, we can walk together, encouraging one another, being encouraged by one another.
A funny thing happened though, in the catharsis of writing about my mother’s Alzheimer’s; suddenly, I found a voice. I found a voice that could speak of so many things that had been locked inside my heart and mind.
For fifty years of my life I struggled to express myself. I can count on one hand the people, outside my family of course, that I can talk to without my heart pounding and my mouth going dry. And even then, even with my dearest of friends, I get tongue-tied. My poor husband, having spent thirty years with me, struggles to understand me. Since I started to blog, he has said more than once that he feels like he knows me so much better having read my thoughts.
I think we all have different voices. Some people verbalize very easily. They can be quick, witty, pithy, succinct. If you ask them a question, they answer. No big deal.
But expecting everyone to be able to verbalize like that is like expecting all children to read at the same age. Or learn calculus. We are all different. While most people will eventually learn to read, it definitely comes easier to some than others, and some of us may never learn calculus.
Writing is my voice. When I watched Jill Phillips sing at Hutchmoot last year, she poured herself into her music. I remember thinking, this is her voice. When I visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art last spring, I sat for nearly an hour in front of a painting of a laurel tree. It spoke to me of peace and wholeness; the artist, Girolamo dai Libri, used canvas and paint for his voice, and could speak through centuries.
Some people may never find their voice. If I hadn’t started blogging, I would have kept a journal, but a journal is a one-sided conversation, and I would have missed out on the community.
All of which brings me back to Rainbow and her friendship with Bethany. It may not look like a friendship that Laura Ingalls Wilder would have had, or even that Tolkien and Lewis had in the original Rabbit Room. But it’s real. And for some of us, it gives us the opportunity to finally be part of the conversation.