So this week I got my first fan mail, though I hesitate to call it that, because it was so much more. The only comparison I have is to the kinds of emails I know Hannah Brencher gets on a daily basis, and that fact alone makes me very proud. I got an email from a reader, someone who not only bought my book, (YAY!), but has been following me on social media. And like a lot of hb’s emails, it was one of those “I just need to spill my guts to a complete stranger, please don’t think I’m creepy” emails.
I’ve written before many times about how easy it is to dump on social media and the internet. As far as internet content goes, it seems talking about how terrible internet content is has become one of the most reliable sources of internet content. It’s right up there with calling millenials lazy and entitled. And while, yes, we should all probably be getting out more, and, yes, we should look up from our phones to experience the world and, more importantly, not get hit by that car while trying to bag a pikachu, and, yes, face-to-face conversations are the best, I have to say that I love social media and the internet, because it makes possible connections that would never happen in real life.
Whether it’s distance, language, lifestyle, social awkwardness, there are a thousand roadblocks that prevent us from meeting people in so-called “real life”. But, thanks to the internet, I’ve met people in different countries, from different walks of life, people I know I never would have met in any other way. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still a fan of one-on-one, face-to-face conversation, but you know what? A lot of the best face-to-face conversations I’ve had were with people who, at first, I had only talked with 140 characters at a time. In fact, some of these people I still haven’t met in “real life.” Thank you, FaceTime and Skype.
Because that’s the thing about connection, however you get it done, it can still work. If you don’t think you can have meaningful, engaging, uplifting discussions on twitter, show up on Wednesday nights for #CreateLounge. If you don’t think the internet can spark real life acts of kindness, let me introduce you to @carriegraceshop and MoreLoveLetters. If you don’t think internet friends can become real life friends, I don’t have the space to list all of mine out.
Friendships, relationships, creative collaborations, all have born through this, through a screen, through someone putting something out there and someone else connecting with it.
Yes, we can do it wrong. We do it wrong all the time. All the more reason for us to do it right. Because when we do it right, amazing things happen.
And I was reminded of that this week. I was reminded that even when I don’t think I’m putting anything important out there, even when I feel like I’m not getting it right, when all I’m posting is how depressed I feel and how many unanswered questions I have, someone is listening, watching, and they are saying “Me, too.”
So, thank you, E. Thank you for having the courage to send out a message into the void. Because it was courageous. And, no, I don’t think you’re weird for doing that. I’ve done that. In fact, it’s the reason I’m here, and the reason you’re email meant so much to me. I promise I’m going to try to be the best I can, to be honest and real and not try to project what I think I “should” but instead tell the truth whatever it may look like, for you and everyone else who’s watching. I hope you like the book.
The internet’s a big, sometimes scary place, but there are good people here.
May we know them. May we be them. May we cheer them on.