This post is from contributor, Vicki.
I’m old-school. I homeschool my kids and make eye contact with them each day. We have good family relationships IRL.
I work as a counselor and make eye contact with my clients. I have good IRL therapeutic relationships.
When my daughter-in-law, Ruth, taught me about online communities and blogging, I was dubious. But I trusted her. She had a monetized blog that helped put her through grad school. Her support system included good friends all over the country who she had never met IRL.
I did know from my own life that relationships come in concentric circles:
At the center are my closest friends and family
They can call me on my nonsense and pray with me at a deep and personal level.
The next circle includes my coffee-clatch friends and colleagues
We share about life, brainstorm together on projects, laugh a lot, and support each other in prayer.
The outside circle is full of happy acquaintances and colleagues
We work on projects together, tell a lot of jokes, pray together in times of acute stressors, and move on.
What surprised my old-school self was that my online community has followed the same pattern.
I am developing a very few center-circle friends.
I am astounded by the relationships that are developing at the second-circle level!
These friendships are supportive and real, even though there is no eye-contact…except at events like the 2:1 Conference.
My favorite circle has been Number 3: the happy acquaintances and colleagues circle.
This is an introvert’s dream come true. I have been blessed with a WHOLE BUNCH of friends who I am getting to know better and better as we share ideas and needs. When we get to meet IRL at events like 2:1 and elsewhere, it is fascinating to me that we don’t feel awkward at all! We are already friends, already know about life. The eye contact of IRL is not necessary, simply a lovely gift when it comes.
Because I am an introvert, I don’t run around looking to be connected with hundreds of IRL buddies. But in the online world, I am having a blast getting to know tons of fun acquaintances. My world has become a much broader and delightful place.
Ruth has finished grad school now and is interviewing for awesome jobs as an archivist. She has refined her postings to cover archiving, libraries, and the coding language that she has helped develop for those. She and my son, Dr. Micah Tillman (who posts for the pure social joy of being part of the philosophy community), are heading off to new adventures, but they’ll take their URL friends with them wherever they go.
I am thankful that I got to meet you IRL at 2:1. I’m also thankful for all my circles of URL friends!
What new-school ideas for such an old-school mom!