Remember when AOL was king? I remember when my wife and I first got Internet. AOL was really the only thing available and it was dial-up. Remember the sounds the computer would make when it was dialing? Remember it telling, “You’ve got mail” as a flag on the mailbox was lifted to show someone had sent you e-mail. That was back in the day, for some of us a very long time ago, for me it was right before I had kids, so thinking back now it makes me feel OLD.
I remember spending hours just trying to figure out how the “internet” worked. I checked out chat rooms, conversed with other clear across the country, read and responded to message boards and yes I looked and viewed things I had never seen or imagined in my life. I spent endless hours just sitting and staring at a computer screen.
I have one friend that I met through a message board and we have continue to stay in contact to this day. We’ve never met face to face and hope that in the next few years it will work out so we can, but we text, e-mail, Face book, and talk on the phone. He’s a great friend and over the years we’ve shared our struggles as men, celebrated in the births of our children and spent countless times just talking about work, life and the challenges we face as fathers. It’s been a great friendship and one I value. It will be a sweet sweet day when we actually meet face to face.
I’ve tried to stay on top of things so I’ve joined MySpace, Facebook and Twitter as well as a lot of other sites trying to stay plugged in and connected. I can say that for years I had wished there was a way I could stay connected with everyone I knew. Relationships have always mattered to me and so with people I had gone to school with, family, co-workers and others I was glad when Facebook came along. It’s allowed me to keep in contact with them. I deleted MySpace many years ago as I realized it was really not for the 30 and over crowd.
In 2009 I joined Twitter and started in the Dad blogging community. I started making connections with so many cool Dads as well as others. I would read blogs and feel an instant connection with the writers. I too had either had a similar experience or could relate. It didn’t take me long to figure out Twitter and so I began having daily interactions with Dads who followed my blog and had connected with me on Twitter. I talked to people all over the world and it truly was and has been an amazing experience. It’s been said that Twitter is where you pick all the cool people you wish you’d gone to school with or grew up with and I would say I 100% support that. I have been incredibly blessed to make a ton of connections.
As someone who likes connecting with lots of different people and having a range of friends all over the place, this has been a great invention for me personally. Although I don’t know if you really call people you connect with on the Internet but never see in person friends. Not sure how to define that. It’s what I call them though.
I became delusional after some time in doing it. I began to believe that somehow I was really going to meet these cool Dads and other folks in person. I had dreams where I traveled around meeting others who loggers. I was hopeful some company was going to pay me to travel around doing a documentary on bloggers and I meet, interview and get photos of all the cool people I had met on Twitter. I kept holding onto this dream thinking it was really going to happen. The more I connected with others the more I really believed I would somehow meet them in real life.
This is the reality in which we live today. The Internet and social media make it very easy for us to meet and connect with so many people we may never meet with in our regular lives. I enjoy this, but the downside for me is that when I meet someone, have continual conversations exchanged over a period of time I feel a connection to this person and I wish it could be more. It’s at this point I do a reality check and tell myself in all likelihood it will never happen and you can either enjoy what you have or stop doing it.
I have had the pleasure of talking on the phone to other bloggers as well as Skyping with them and it’s been a great way to connect deeper. It’s allowed me to have some really deep and intense conversations with people I already respect and admire and to hear more about their story and what they’ve been through in their life. That for me is something I will never tire of. In hearing someone’s story I find I can always connect with the person. I will say that I am thankful for being able to actually have met 1 other Tweep and blogger that lives here in Portland and that is @portlanddad, James. I have enjoyed the friendship we have developed. He’s an awesome all around guy, great Dad and tells some amazing stories of what it is like for him as a SAHD (stay at home dad) raising his boys. If nothing else this has helped to at least fulfill one of my dreams and I wouldn’t change it for a moment.
I can’t imagine what social media and the Internet will look like in another 10 – 20 years. Most of kids will all be adults by then and on with their own lives. The one thing I am thankful for; unlike the past is that I am sure I will be able to instantly connect with them wherever they are at and with whatever they are doing. I won’t have to miss much of their lives this way. I don’t think AOL will ever be what it once was and I still secretly hold out that one day I will be able to make connections with so many others, but I continue to remind myself to enjoy the connections as they are.
Can you relate? How had social media impacted or changed your way of life and how you look and define friendships?