It is so easy and, sometimes, so accurate to be cynical about the internet. There are trolls make reading comments on articles an exercise in foolishness, there are the humblebrags and overshares of Facebook,and the threat of random dick pics on, well, practically every social media site.
For some people, like my husband who disabled his Facebook account years ago, the bad outweighs the good and they might find the hours that folks like me spend on Twitter or reading blogs to be perplexing or maybe even a waste of time. Why risk losing privacy or having weirdos look at pictures of the kids?
But for a lot of us who spend a lot of time online, being on Twitter feels like being part of a community. We cheer when people announce they are expecting, we coo over @Meggles new baby, we watch these babies grow into toddlers and little kids. There is a little village of aunties who know that @samanthajcampen’s Theo is a loving big brother and that @jonniker’s Sam is obsessed with tights and that @TwoAdults has excellent taste in snacks and two kids with the best dimples in all the land.
We share stories and tips and frustrations and pictures and we grow attached in a way that is real, online and off. And so when one to Twitter babies is suddenly very sick, it feels as scary and sad as if it happened to the kid next door.
One of the sweetest souls on Twitter, @MarianneCanada, got the worst news this week when she found out her baby Hugo has cancer. In the three days since they got the news, people who’ve never met Hugo have cried, prayed, lit candles and rallied to help. There is a fundraising page that started with a goal of $1000 but is now up to over $10,000. There are meal delivery being organized and connections to doctors and other families with similar stories being passed on. People want to help, to show they care.
Community can be such a cliche when it comes to social media (really, I who cares enough about crackers to join the “Saltines community”?) but it can be real and alive and I am grateful to be a small part of it.