Two blog posts I have read recently reinforce my beliefs in the blogging community. The first is by Lori from Random Ramblings of a Stay at Home Mum. The other is by Eden at Edenland. These two posts exemplify the friendship and support created by blogging, and the way we can reach out through blogs to bring help, hope and love into our worlds.
Lori's husband took his own life at the start of this year. She has two tiny children to take care of alone, with the nightmares from witnessing his suicide. She has used her blog as therapy - writing her pain and progress down for the world to read. While some readers have criticised her sharing of the tragedy on her blog, many more readers have come to her aid. She believes the support she's received from the blogging community has been the key to her survival - emotional and financial.
"Tell me there is no community here, and I'll show this first post, and the 300 comments that come with it. I'll show this post, or this one, or this one. I'll show you $12000 donated, and a stack of parcels and packages, and cards and flowers and wishes, all for a family that these people had only read about, and never met.While Lori continues to heal and make a new life for herself and her children, the online community has opened their arms and embraced Lori personally, which is helping bring Lori back. She has made so many friends, and cites the Australian Bloggers Conference as one of the best weekends of her life. She has also raised awareness about mental illness and the finality of suicide. She was also a winner in the lifestyle category of the Best Australian Blogs Competition (the same category I was a finalist in).
I'll show emails that keep arriving, every day. Ones to say I'm thinking of you. Ones to offer practical help and support, from food to clothes to cash to babysitting."
Eden's post was heartwarming. She came across an Australian blogger, Vee, whose husband, Alex passed away from cancer last year. She met her Vee in person for the first time a few weeks ago and together they redecorated the cancer ward where Alex was diagnosed and had chemotherapy. Alex was an artist and so Eden and Vee printed some of his art onto canvasses and hung them in the ward, including patients' rooms. Without permission.
"We left a piece of the world goddamn less ugly than we had found it, and I am fiercely proud of us for that....
I looked at all of Alex's wonderful images, tried to see them through the eyes of a newly diagnosed cancer patient. I wanted them to be taken away, somewhere - anywhere other than where they were. "What a beautiful act of kindness. And what a bond formed in the online blogging community.
The internet can be a dangerous place. It can also be isolating. And the purpose of online communities can be misunderstood. But there is so much love and support to be found online. Like-minded people can meet up to talk about things that matter to them. Online communities offer hope and can create confidence. And they can be places of love.
Blogging can give ordinary people a voice. It's no longer only celebrities raising the awareness of issues and going public with their private lives. It's people like us. We're helping each other. Turning online support into physical, real life support.
We are so privileged to share insight into bloggers' lives. I know peoples' secrets and triumphs - these are people I probably wouldn't just bump into on the street. And I let them into my life too.
I receive emails from people around the world asking me about ichthyosis. They ask me for advice. Other people tell me their stories of illness and disability. I guess they open up to me because I've opened up. Maybe readers contact Eden for advice. And I am sure as time passes, or maybe it's already happening, Lori will be asked to provide advice to other wives who've lost their husbands to suicide.
While I have lots of 'real life' friends, I have met so many through blogging and Twitter. I count these as friends too. When I have had a difficult day and go home to an empty house, I take comfort knowing that I receive support online. I know people appreciate what I have to say. That's the value of the blogging community.
How has the blogging community helped you? Even if you aren't a blogger?