This post is by regular contributor Kate Fairlie of Picklebums.
I am a planner. I like to think things through, make plans and know where I’m heading well ahead of time. When we first decided to have a baby I had been working in child care and teaching preschool for almost ten years, I had a pretty clear idea of how this baby gig was going to pan out for us, or so I thought.
At our first visit hospital visit I heard those fateful words that would blow any plans I had clean out of the water…
“There is definitely two babies in there….”
I had never, not for a second, even given a passing thought to the possibility we might have twins. I didn’t know anyone who had twins, and the most common reaction when we told people was “I always wanted to have twins. You’re so lucky!” But I felt far from lucky. With my idealistic plans crumpled I was ignorant, scared and alone.
As my pregnancy progressed and we discovered there were complications and that our babies would be born prematurely my feelings of loneliness grew and grew. I needed to find someone to talk to, someone who wouldn’t laugh off my fears, someone who really understood.
Stuck at home on bed rest, I turned on my computer and clicked to where I knew I would find what I needed. I’d been part of an online parenting forum off and on when I was trying to get pregnant, so I knew I would also find an active community of ‘mothers of multiples’ there. Behind the safety of my screen I could reach out to these women, to share my fears, and my hopes and to begin to rebuild my plans.
I found exactly what I needed. I was supported with information, love, laughter and friendship.
Many people talk about the lack of ‘community’ these days. They say we don’t know who our neighbours are anymore and that ‘community is dead’. Some suggest that the internet might be the cause of this ‘break down of community’.
While I believe it is important to be active in your local community, to know your neighbours (even ours who are cows and sheep!), for me, the internet has created more community not lessened it.
Because the internet bridges the geographic divide, it allows us to connect with people we might not otherwise be in contact with. It allows quick and easy communication between liked minded people, it allows easy sharing of ideas, information and experiences, and for those who perhaps cannot easily leave the house it can be a life line.
In the early days of mothering, the online community kept me sane and gave me hope, during one of the most difficult and stressful times in my life, support that continues to this day.
As my girls grew older and it became apparent that some of our parenting choices didn’t quite fit within the mainstream ‘norm’, once again I found community online. Connecting with like-minded people and sharing ideas online has helped me to be a better parent. This virtual ‘mothers group’ lead to a ‘real life’ play group, which has led to some of my most treasured friendships.
My blog has become another source of community for me. Through my blog and blogging I have met a wide range of fabulous people and formed strong friendships, both online and off.
Earlier this year, when my husband was rushed to hospital with serious heart problems, it was my online community who poured out support and love. I came home from two sleepless nights at hospital to find my twitter streams full of messages of love, my email over flowing with offers to help and my freezer full of meals made by friends I met online, some of them from those very early days as a scared pregnant lady.
From where I’m standing it is clear, the internet did not ‘kill community’ it just made it bigger, and allowed you to access it in your PJs.
What do you think? Is community dead? Does the internet contribute to a break down in community?