Monday, 12 November 2012

Internet Friends

We live in a global village. Without ever leaving our homes we can talk to and really, truly connect with, befriend, people whom we have never met. The proliferation of internet forums (fora? No, nearly sure it's forums!) and social networking sites like facebook has provided us with these opportunities.

I've been making friends online for years, initially due to shared interests such as writing, and more recently due to shared interests such as attachment-style parenting (natural term breastfeeding in particular).

On Saturday I had the opportunity to meet some of the latter group. Four of us in total met - though the other 3 had met before, due to them living in or around Dublin, while I live a three hour drive away and don't make it up to the Capitol very often.

We met on an Irish parenting forum. We were drawn to each other because we were very much in the minority on that board, unfortunately; being believers in breastfeeding and holding children and never letting them cry-it-out. We chatted for over a year on a thread, and then migrated to facebook, daring to share our real names and identities, and the chat continued and the online friendship developed.

These women have heard (read) it all. They have been there for me through my recent miscarriage. They have read posts where I complained of sore nipples and probably, in the forum days, read posts where I described discharge and various types of goo coming out of me and/or my baby.

We were comfortable with each other though, because we're all nice people who share some important philosophies on how to raise children. Now those I've met are no longer just internet friends, but real-life ones! I am truly lucky to have them in my life and I hope to meet them many more times as the weeks, months and years go by.

Before I had E, I used to frequent various types of forums, based on interests such as TV shows and writing. I ended up making good friends with two women I met online. We initially bonded over a shared love of the TV show Lost, then a shared love of writing, then a shared disgust at how dismally the plot twists turned on Lost. We wrote a collaborative writing project together for several years - indeed, they still write it, though I don't seem to have time to log on much these days. They're kind, funny and extremely talented writers. As we got to know one another better and shared our real names and facebook identities, we too became real friends (if not yet real-life ones). They send cards and presents for E every year on her birthday, so to thank them I'll give their writing a little plug:

E.J. Tett is the author of the Power of Malinas Trilogy (1, 2, 3), a series of fantasy novels for young adults with strong female characters, especially the main protagonist.

 I've read all three books and they're marvellous and just the antidote for the damsel-in-distress sort of fantasy that is still all too common, especially since it's for teenagers who could do with strong, courageous female role models.

Meanwhile, Jo Robertson wrote this collection of dark but hilarious short stories, Behind the Shutters. I wish I had half the talent at humorous writing that she has. The first story in particular had me in stitches. They're creepy and funny at the same time, and I wish she would write more of them.

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