For many, the friendships in our lives have evolved with the changing times. With new technology, apps and forms of communication friendships too have changed. Rather than meeting for coffee or dinner, we can now text and “Face Time” via a multitude of different formats. With such a heavily connected globe, friendships are more far reaching than they have been ever before.
For a lot of people, myself included, some of the most meaningful friendships are with those we have never met in the same room. While this may have seemed odd even just 15 years ago, the connectivity of our modern age has brought people together from around the world. Most often it is a shared experience or shared mindset that engages people together. We may see a post on Facebook, a Hashtag trending on Twitter, or an intriguing profile on Instagram. Once we find content we connect with, friendships are born.
When I had my Ileostomy surgery in 2003, these forms of communication were not yet in play. For the most part, I researched through books and word of mouth. There were small group support meetings to attend, but that was about it. Today we have Facebook groups, Twitter chats, applications such as “Meetup” where people are able to coordinate physical meetings of like minded people on a given topic or shared passion.
For those that face a new challenge in life, typically health related, modern social media offers a plethora of information.
After my diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis in 2007, I had information readily available to me. Although I learned rather quickly not to believe everything I read after a quick Google search. What I didn’t see at the time, was the connections I could make with people that I could help and could help me.
As time went on, I began to discover various online forums that openly discussed issues important to me. I became friends in this new way with many people from around the world. We may never have met before in person, but it doesn’t matter. Exchanging stories of past experiences and current challenges brings a deeper meaning into these new friendships. It’s an amazing feeling when you realize you are not alone with what you are going through.
I have made lifelong connections with countless people all over the world. What began as asking for and giving advice, turned into learning more about one another in a deeper way. It turns out there is much more in common with each other than simply a common illness or experience. Having somebody to talk to without bias, who will be honest enough to tell you what may be a harmful truth, is a very unique experience. Face to face with long term friends, who may only relate to a situation, may tend to shelter you from the truth. Having an online community, reality of a particular circumstance is most likely to be shared.
I was told a few weeks ago by a close friend, reading my blog and sharing the reality of my experiences is helpful. Hearing parts of my story so far has allowed others to see life really does move forward. Believe me, during my health troubles, I was not always so positive about my future. I continue to get angry, guilty, sad and depressed. I work hard each day to not allow these feelings to take grasp of my every thought and every action. As mentioned in a previous post;
“I simply could have fell victim to my circumstance”
In those moments, I chose to not allow myself to travel that path. Now, I feel I have a team of people spread all over the world that will not allow me to stay down for too long. Just as I will not allow them to stay down too long.
I encourage everyone reading right now, don’t be shy, don’t feel alone. What you may be going through right now truly is a shared experience with others out there. Whether you have a common issue or complex, you will be surprised the connections you can make, connections that just might turn into life long friendships.