I am so fortunate. I have over 775 friends on Facebook, from over 40 different countries and on six continents. Of those, I probably personally know about 200, consisting of 'real life' friends, fellow writers I've met online but consider dear friends, and fans of my writing whom I've had the pleasure of interacting and becoming friends with. Then there are probably another twenty-five or so that are book review bloggers I like to follow. The remaining 550 are people who've friended me, who I'm assuming have read my writing and want to know what I'm up to, and I'm immensely grateful for every one of them.
I see a lot of fun silliness float across my newsfeed and my wall, because procrastination - thy name is Facebook. Frivolous stuff like eCard sayings, YouTube videos, manipulated pictures of their favorite actor's face Photoshopped onto a porn star's naked body (love those!) - things that make you smile, or make you think, or make you cringe. But every once in a while something happens on Facebook that is remarkable. It has given me the ability to pay it forward.
I've had readers/friends ask me to help them with their college essays, which I did gladly and was moved by what they wrote. I've had a teacher ask me if they could have permission to use my work as an example in their creative writing class. I've donated or contributed to several charities I never would have known about otherwise. And twice I've had someone tell me that they were in a dark place in their life, but that reading my story gave them something to hold onto, something to make them smile and live another day, if for no other reason than to see how the story ended. I can't begin to tell you the impact those two people had on my life. One of them I became close with and she is so special to me now I send her virtual hugs all the time, just because. The other I lost track of, but I think of her often and hope that she found another story to get her through the next week, and that she took my advice and got help.
It makes you really think about not only the power of the written word, but the power of social media. Everything you say, even if it's just 'Good Morning!' has an impact, possibly all over the world. You never know when that poem you decided to share may be just the message someone you've never met needed to hear, or if that joke popped up on someone's screen when they most needed to laugh. In an age where cyberbullying is a real issue, I choose to focus on the good side of social networking, the way it brings strangers together. There's a reason Facebook calls it 'friending' someone when you add them to your network.
I met my friends here at Writers Gone Wild online. They are truly my friends in every sense of the word, and I'm so grateful they've asked me to join. I hope that in the future, my posts here will make you smile, or make you think, or make you hot under the collar, but never make you cringe.
*adapted from Writers Gone Wild blog post 6/4/2012