Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Friends From Everywhere

This weekend, I'm going to head up to New Hampshire to see the brand new baby of a pair of dear friends. I drove up to a different hospital when their first child was born, too. These are friends who will be at my wedding this summer, who I can laugh with, who have one of the few children I willingly spend time with (certainly the closest kid I hang with), who I would go through a brick wall for. They are some of the most exceptional people I know - brilliant, noble and strong. I love them dearly, and I can't wait to meet their new son, whose texted picture I have flashed around to friends like he was my own blood relative.

I met these friends on the Internet.

The Internet is a funny place. I'm a part of the first generation or two of Internet users for whom the Internet is fully integated into their lives. I Facebook like crazy, I blog here, I check email continually, I Twitter, I connect with the Internet through phone and computer. With so much use, people like me are bound to meet other people floating around out there in the ether. Some of these people - just like people in the elevator or in the coffee shop - will strike a chord with you, and you'll become friends. I know all the stereotypes and the truths. The Internet is full of child molesters and weirdos...everyone's living out a personality of their own fabrication...bad people are out there trying to get you. I know all this, but I also know that some of the best people I know are people I met online.

I want to be clear here. Without some of the people who I have met, I would not be who I am. I never would have started writing creatively if not for Ubersite. If not for my creative writing, I would probably not have started writing speeches. Rich said at our Clearness Committee meeting the other day that he fell in love with me partly because of the way I wrote on that site...hell, Rich and I MET on Icecats message boards. I would not know The Lucy, who is one of my bridesmaids and who drove up from Pennsylvania to go to a David Sedaris book signing with me in Boston. I would not have an adorable little girl yelling "I love you Miss Josie" as I left her house. My life would be different. I start with this because I don't want people to pooh pooh what follows.

On March 26th, a woman who I haven't ever met died of leukemia in Texas. Her name was Amanda Amos, and she was the originator of the Cannonball Read project. She was 33, which is a ridiculous age for anyone to die, much less someone with a three year old son. She was sharply funny, incredibly well spoken and smart as a whip. She was a commenter on Pajiba, a movie site that I don't comment on very often but read daily. The response to her death has been overwhelming, and I cannot help but be moved not only by the tragedy of her death but by...hell, by the renewed hope for humanity the response has given me. People who had never met her in person were sending letters and books and flowers and all kinds of gifts, just to make her fight a little easier. The Internet might show us the worst of humanity, in the form of Dateline specials and horror stories from the evening news, but it so often shows us the best of it, too...the caring people can have for each other and the love.

The Pajiba crew is trying to get a coordinated effort going towards donating to a scholarship fund for Amanda's son. If you have an extra $5 this month, or an extra $20, please consider sending it to taking care of a kid who lost someone spectacular too soon in his life. It's tough out there for all of us -we need to help each other bear up until it gets sunny out again. Even if you're too strapped to send money, please consider donating blood or getting on the Bone Marrow registry. It's something good you can do that costs nothing and could make the difference in someone's life. Please consider it, for the sake of all the friends you have, had and will yet have, no matter where you find them.

1 comment:

  1. I am oftentimes in awe of what has come from Ubersite - a husband, a best friend, a decision to really follow my dream and try to make a living as a writer. People who have never developed a meaningful relationship with a person they met online won't understand it. It was always a small world to begin with and the internet made it tiny and in some ways, a much better one.