I was unsure as to whether I should post this here or on "The Robblog". I chose here, because of what I feel is an aspect of the Internet that seems new and wonderful and not unusual at all.
Early in January, my friend Janice Carder passed away after a near seven year battle with cancer. She was a good hearted person, but those final years were not easy for her, or for that matter anyone suffering from the likes of it.
Yet somehow, she managed to stay in contact with friends and loved ones through social networking, primarily through Facebook and one of her favorite pastimes there, Farmville. She didn't really neglect anyone.
For many of us, there is a tendency to dismiss the Internet as the perfect tool for shut-ins to avoid social contact and interaction. To a degree, I suppose that's true. In Janice's case, however, it allowed her to expand her social circles even while she was unable to leave her room. This was not a choice she wanted; this was circumstance. But she did it, and developed new friends, and plenty of them.
We could be dismissive of these "friends", asking how good a friend can we be with someone who we've never seen or spoken with in person. Perhaps that's a bad measure of friendship. In the most basic definition, a friend is someone with whom we find pleasure and who shares of themselves.
In that sense, we all have friends, now everywhere.
All of this possible by the global connections afforded us via the Internet. For me, that is the most important thing that the Internet provides us.
As I write these words, we have witnessed, in the past two weeks, one government brought down, another one teetering, all due to social networks. No guns nor tanks nor bombs; the people Tweeted their way to revolution. So powerful is this notion, so powerful that the government of Egypt felt compelled to shut it down. Even here in the United States, there are people who fear the Internet enough that they would like the same ability. Like a wildfire, though, doing so will only serve to strengthen the change it has wrought.
This is the power of communication.
Which brings me back to my dear friend Janice. Her husband, Chris, held an online memorial for her on Farmville the night of January 29th, allowing those who could not attend her physical memorial a chance to remember Janice. Sadly, I was unable to attend that, but I am sure that many did. Through means digital, Janice was and is. She is not truly gone. She lives on in her friends, and her memory has left traces across this digital medium. Indeed, many others have left similar traces. But, for me, hers is the most personal to date.
See you on the Internet.