As we in the US get ready to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday tomorrow, many of us like to blog about the things we are thankful for. Each year, as I dwell on that thought, certain things always come to the forefront. I’m always thankful for the life I have, for the people who love me, for our health and well-being, etc. This year isn’t any different, I recognize how incredibly lucky and blessed I am to have what I have, but at the same time I’m also feeling thankful for all of the connections I’ve made through the wonders of technology, especially social networking.
In the 8 years since I started a technology blog, which has morphed into this site, then adding the Child Abuse Survivor site, and things like Twitter and Facebook, I’ve gotten to know so many wonderful people that I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to know. I’ve reconnected with friends from long ago, and had the opportunity to keep in better contact with my large Irish-Catholic family that has managed to spread it’s way across the country. I’ve been able to use the tools to learn more about the people I see regularly, connecting with them over shared interests, learning more about my coworkers and friends than I managed to learn before.
Being naturally introverted, and sometimes painfully shy, I can easily recognize how much the ability to follow and connect with people online allows me to be much more social than I normally am in a public situation. It can be near impossible for me to strike up a conversation with someone I don’t know, let alone try to “work a room” at an event. On the other hand, if I have already connected with others who will be at the event online, that becomes much, much easier.
The last 12 months has been a bit of a watershed in regards to connecting with people online, and building relationships that I am very thankful for. Part of that is the growing use of the tools by everyone, part of it is the pure happenstance of events occurring this year that provided opportunities to meet and connect. I’ve had a happy convergence of family events (traveling to NY, my cousin’s wedding), professional opportunities (speaking at ILTA 09, doing social networking presentations in the office), the start up of the Abuse Survivors network, and lots of old friends creating Facebook accounts that have fueled those connections, but it’s the communication platforms provided to us now that have made it easy to stay in touch with those folks.
So, while I’m not one to go on about the inherent wonderfulness of what is, essentially, just a tool. I am thankful for all of the relationships that have grown out of using these tools, whether they be a reestablishing of an old relationship, or the growth of a completely new one. Either way, I’m blessed to be in touch with so many people who teach me, inspire me by their actions, make me laugh, support me, encourage me, and entertain me to no end!
I hope you all enjoy the day, whether it’s a holiday in your homeland or not, and know that I am thankful for you.