|Marcia De Coster on the right, and me on the left.|
I'm talking about Internet friends, of course.
I've been an online person for more than 20 years now; I started with CompuServe in the bad old days of "dial-up and get off quick 'cause this thing is costing us by the minute," and it amazes me to realize that I am now connected all day, every day, to friends all over the world. Some of my very best friends are people I've never met; these people know me as well, or better, than people who see me every day. I turn to them without reserve when I need help; we celebrate the good things that happen together, and we comfort each other in sorrow.
Without Facebook, Marcia DeCoster would have remained only a photo and a name on several cherished books on my shelf. Thanks to Facebook, she's a real live person; warm, loving and funny. I've gotten to know her through photographs and the written word; I've admired her work, enjoyed watching her granddaughter grow, and had my coffee while chatting asynchronously on various topics on our Facebook pages. Across the miles, we've both felt the joys and sadnesses that come and go in our beady worlds.
But, when it comes right down to it, nothing beats getting that hug. Or seeing Marcia's beautiful beadwork up close and in person. I can tell you that those earrings she is wearing are amazing - they sparkle and dance. Pure poetry in motion, they are. Pictures do not capture them; they need to be seen dancing from her earlobes.
And that's what is on my mind this morning. Motion. Everything moves so quickly now; I don't know if it's just because I'm getting older, or if the world really is moving faster. I certainly know that the online world moves very quickly; I miss far more than I see on Facebook. It's nice to slow down for a day; to meet a friend for the first time, to share our joys and sorrows with a look and a hug instead of a word and a photo.
I live a lot of my life in the virtual space of the Internet, and I'm grateful for it. I've worked from home for nearly 25 years, and I love popping into the "virtual water cooler" on my breaks. I've gotten to know people from every corner of the world, and my life is richer for it. But there is still something very special about being close enough to touch.
Nothing beats getting that hug. Nothing.