Social media receive a lot of criticism for being a whole lot of hot air, for turning teenagers into virtual friendship addicts unable to converse coherently with (let alone relate to) the real human beings around them, and for making us all live life at one level of remove with our sharing fingers always poised to tell the world what we’re doing and thereby somehow validating what we’re doing.
I get that. I can see that there’s a lot of that going on. However, social media also has the power to bring together like-minded people from all over the world and forge real friendships.
Take my friend, the lovely Karen Soutar. Karen lives in Scotland. Like me, Karen likes her rock music, has a bit of a thing of the odd rock star or five, and loves reading romantic fiction (preferably involving rock stars). Karen and I have a lot in common, but we’d never have met if it hadn’t been for Facebook and Twitter. What began as a fledgling virtual connection has turned into something very real indeed, and last weekend saw Karen’s second visit to the Wells residence in Lincolnshire–this time involving an overnight stay.
My kids immediately took Karen off on a little nature walk involving frogs and assorted bugs. We frequented the local shops and had ice cream in the park. We cooked a huge Mexican feast and, when the kids were finally in bed, we opened up the lovely bubbly thoughtfully brought along by Karen to settle down for a girlie chat. And my, did we put the world to rights!
Later on, hubs entertained us with a fabulous cocktail concoction (Night over London, I think it was called…), and the evening continued into the wee small hours of the morning (just).
Next morning, Karen was introduced to the Wells Family Sunday Breakfast tradition, and then we set off to explore Lincoln together. We got blown away on the wall walk at Lincoln Castle! And all too sudden, this very real visit from a virtual friend drew to a close.
So. Real virtuality, or virtual reality–it can totally work both ways. Thank you for visiting, Karen. We’re now planning our trip to Scotland….