Social media has been good to me for over 15 years

Today’s social media is both very different from the social internet in the 1990s and eerily similar. I’ve often equated twitter with the chat rooms I frequented back in 1995-1999ish. Twitter is like a 90s chatroom on steroids. It just wasn’t called social media at the time.

For a few months in 1996, I used my parents computer to log on to the freenet - in the days of dialup, freenet was the equivalent to using dialup now - pretty painful. There was probably computer access provided at my college, but it never even occurred to me to use it. I wasn’t there long anyway. I transferred to Florida State in the fall of 1996 and discovered the bliss of using a T1 connection at the school library, which seemed to be overflowing with computers.

I spent hours at various libraries - checking email, installing ICQ over and over again (IT wiped it out all the time), playing in the chat rooms and surfing the web. (Oh, yes, we surfed. Does anyone say that anymore?)

The best part about those chat rooms?

They introduced me to Sam, my first online friend in Canada. We were in touch as recently as 5 years ago. If I emailed her today, we’d have a great time catching up.

Mark, a guy who was originally from Ottawa but has mostly lived in the U.S. since I’ve known him.

Shawn, whose 11 year old son hacked into my computer while we were in an ICQ real-time chat. (Shawn was so mad when I told him, but I thought it was funny - too smart for his own good, that one!)

Anne, Shawn’s wife who wasn’t nearly as involved, but was always so nice to chat with.

Ryan, who I met in Orlando (after getting a whopper of a speeding ticket…ouch) and we did 3 Disney parks in one day - good times!

I met a couple of others in-person whose names have faded from my memory. I even exchanged letters with some, which I recognize as being rather odd at a time when email was becoming so prevalent. I used to chat with a guy from Russia who would catch me during my work day - very late for him - just so he could practice his English. Then there was the guy from Australia who was severely epileptic and admitted to drinking regularly and too much - a fairly big no-no with his drug regimen. He would email his writing to me to read and he was SO bloody talented. If I remembered his name, I’d be doing searches on Amazon for his book(s). Surely he’s been published by now.

People wonder why I take the time to use “social media”. It’s because I’ve been using it for all of my adult life. It’s because I’ve met so many wonderful people through it - including my husband. I’ve connected with people all over the world through the Internet for a myriad of reasons.

And it’s been good. Really, really good.

Saturday nights with Mom

Christmas 1979 - Probably the first documented evidence of Mom indulging in my clotheshorse tendencies.I had to go to the drug store tonight to pick up a few things and I got quite distracted on the cosmetics aisle. I probably only spent about 15 minutes looking, but it made me think of my mom. When I was a teenager, my dad worked in one or the other of the family’s businesses as a truck driver, taking two runs a week up to Atlanta to pick up produce. One of the runs was over Saturday night/Sunday. So, many times when my younger brother went on Dad’s run with him, Mom and I would hang out together. I’d help her get her materials ready for Sunday school (she taught the 3 year olds).

By the time we were done getting the arts and crafts stuff finished, it was usually fairly late. Even though we had to get up early the next morning, we’d head over to the 24 hour Albertsons on Apalachee Parkway in Tallahassee. (Publix was our favorite grocery store, but Albertsons had more cosmetics - and they were open longer.) We lived in the west end of town, so getting to Albertsons required a trip to the other side of town - not that Tallyland is all that big! We’d usually pick up a treat for a midnight snack - most often lemon meringue pie - and then head over to the cosmetics. We checked out everything, from eye shadows, to blush, to nail polish and went through all the different brands and then pick up a few things to experiment with.

Hindsight is definitely 20/20, because now I know my mom probably had only marginal interest in our trips to look at make up - she went because she enjoyed spending time with me. Mom was never into girly things like dressing up and make up, doing hair, etc. She liked to feel good about the way she looked, but she put less importance on it than I did.  I tended to be a fairly “typical” teenage girl who was overly absorbed with how I looked, never leaving the house without being made up and “looking good”.  “Looking good” is relative since I doubt I had a good sense of what actually suited me in those days.

Now that Mom is gone, the memories I have of those times with her - going shopping, helping her find clothes and makeup I “approved” of, enjoying our guilty pleasures (mmm…pie) - mean so much more to me now that time has altered my perception of them. Like any mother and daughter, we had difficult times, but we were so fortunate to come through them with greater love and respect for each other. Before she died, my mother was my best friend (next to my husband). I’m so thankful that I developed that closeness with her and maintained it during the years after I moved to Canada.

If I can look back in 20 years and feel that I’ve been even half as good to my child(ren) as my mom was to me and my brothers, then I think I will have done a pretty decent job. She was truly an amazing lady and I miss her more than words can ever adequately express.

*****

This post was based on the prompt “Ode to your mother…write about a special memory you have of your mom in honor of Mother’s Day.” from Mama Kat’s Pretty Much World Famous Writer’s Workshop.

I originally posted this April 25, 2009. It is the perfect memory for this prompt. 

December 25 – Photo – a present to yourself (#reverb10)

December 25 – Photo – a present to yourself. Sift through all the photos of you from the past year. Choose one that best captures you; either who you are, or who you strive to be. Find the shot of you that is worth a thousand words. Share the image, who shot it, where, and what it best reveals about you. (Author: Tracey Clark)

It’s not easy to find pictures of me. Especially ones that I think reflect who I am. Often our personal photos are mostly about centered around Brandon. Our family. Not necessarily showcasing one individual - unless it’s Brandon.

However, I’ve had the chance to do some things this year that were all about me and my personal interests/goals. As part of one particular project, I and several of my friends had the irresistable opportunity to be photographed by an amazingly talented photographer, Kym Shumsky, who is in the midst of her Le Mein project - photographing 100 strangers. What an undertaking, especially when you consider that in a 10 minute time span, she connects with you. For me, it happened in about 10 seconds.

I sat down and Kym said, “Who are five people you want to meet in heaven?”

I immediately began to tear up, because my first thought was my mother. It took me a few minutes to be able to verbalize that, and all the while she was snapping my picture. It was unnerving and I felt exposed. Raw. Uncomfortable. Vulnerable. All the while she was telling me how beautiful the pictures would be.

When I first saw my pictures, I felt very nervous and insecure about them going on the Le Mien site. They were hard for me to look at and love. Until I realized that I was looking at myself - my real self - for the first time. I wasn’t wearing a mask or pretending for a camera. I was me in the most complete sense.

Photo Credit: Kym Shumsky (Relishing.ca)The picture that was hardest for me to love is this one - the one in which I imagine myself explaining about the loss of my mother to this complete stranger - who somehow was no longer a stranger - within minutes of talking with her for the first time. I can see me straining to breath normally and stop the tears from falling.

This year I was challenged repeatedly to step out of my comfort zone, try new things or stretch myself beyond what I’ve tried to do before.

Throughout the process I’ve grown as a person; hopefully in mostly positive ways. The biggest challenge for me has been to open up to new possibilities and new relationships. To tear down walls I’ve had up for years.

Allowing myself to open up makes me as vulnerable as I felt in the moment this picture was taken, but I know it’s worth it because the reward of being a friend to someone is so fulfilling.

These are the posts that made me appreciate "the magical moments"

It’s been a few weeks since I did my weekly wrap-up of the posts I liked during the week. The last couple of weeks I either forgot or had something else to post. This week, there were several posts that made me smile because they were family/relationship focused. They highlighted moments that make family so special. The moments that can make you feel like the richest person in the world on the days you’re at your lowest. That’s powerful and comforting. I had one of those moments myself this week, and it was just what I needed after a couple of less than stellar days. So, here we go!

  • The magical moments - A little perspective
    This post is appropriately named and was the reason I picked this particular theme this week. Take some time to check out Amanda’s blog - she just started a couple months ago and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed reading her posts. I get the added bonus of getting to hear the scoop from her in person each week at Book Club. ;)
  • An Interview with Justin - This Heavenly Life
    You can read this post and it’s amusing and cute. When you read between the lines, though, you can see a couple who enjoy each other. A couple who clearly practice good-natured teasing on a regular basis. There are a hundred things that are important in a relationship, but I think having a sense of humor is one of the essentials.
  • deconstructing santa - BAD MOMMY MOMENTS
    Some of the moments we have with kids are difficult and signal the end of an era. One more phase of their innocent childhood gone. I don’t see these moments as any less magical, as it’s all part of growing up, but they can be a minefield for parents to navigate. Which direction is best for your child? Are they ready for the truth and how do you maintain your values and beliefs while avoiding disillusioning your child unnecessarily?
  • The one with the earwigs - Postcards from the Mothership
    By the title, you can probably guess that this one is hard to find the magical moment in. Well, to be honest, I doubt the moment itself will ever be considered magical. But can you just imagine the retelling of this story - for years to come? It’s funny and horrifying, perfect for the type of legendary family tales that stand the test of time. Hopefully, by then the earwigs will be long gone.
  • Water Nymph - Here Where I Have Landed
    I recently took my son downtown to my own office when I was off one day. He ran all over the place, making everyone smile who saw him jet past. He took up residence in my co-worker’s chair, played with her computer and phone, having a tough conversation where he kept telling the caller “No”. Like Justine, having him there created memories in a different context for me that can help me smile on the days when work stress gets overwhelming. 

I hope you enjoy these “magical moments” and have a few of your own with your family this week!