Being essentially trapped both in my house and in my community, I have found various ways of alleviating my need for human contact. Like most people my age, it involves the heavy use of social media. Although I have not mastered the fine art of the Tweet, I have blogged, pinned, Yahoo Grouped, LinkedIn, Facebooked, etc., with the best of them. In fact, I would have to say every significant relationship I have made in New York, with the exception of Builder, was created or enhanced through social media.
It's truly a new world.
Through a computer, I can be anything I want to be. I follow blogs which range from the impersonal to the completely personal. I can also reveal myself as much or as little as I want. I don't even have to use my real name. How many bloggers do? I have found and traded ideas through other blogs and Pinterest pages (which is great for the Martha Stewart in us). I read deconstructions, compare cultures, debate current events, and have even started the occasional flame war.
But one has to be careful.
Behind all those blogs and emails are real people. People who, when you finally meet them, can seem like old friends because you've been reading their emails for years. I have actually met some of my best friends through social media (one through Facebook, when I inadvertently started the above-mentioned flame war, another through her now-defunct blog). When I went to the Torah Homeschool conference in 2012, I recognized a number of participants from their emails and blogs. However, there are still risks involved. Just as I can hide behind an alias, so can they (You didn't think my driver's license really identifies me as AztecQueen2000, did you?). In fact, I found out that one of my favorite bloggers, and the one who goes into the most details about her life, has blogged under a pseudonym. It was an odd feeling, because as we read these blogs, tweets and posts, we are doing more than reading. We are relating. We learn so much about the other person that there is almost a relationship. Except that the person is not really part of your world. You wouldn't know these bloggers if you met them on the street, unless they post pictures. You never talk to them. You don't even know if they are being honest.
We create a persona in the online world that has elements of who we are, but they are characters. Not people. The people behind those characters may be infinitely more complicated.