I used to be an on-line scrabble fanatic. I started off playing with friends, but then they weren’t playing fast enough for me so I found a place where you could play against anyone. It opened the world up. I played with a guy in New York, a few people in England and a couple of people in India. What was cool about it is that I could play at any time of the day or night because of the time differences.
I love the connections I made with total strangers. Some would chat a bit in the text chat section next to the game, others just wanted to play.
Now, recently, I’ve started blogging. So many of us start blogs for ourselves – to get thoughts down in an organised way. It’s a fantastic discipline because you know at least one other person is going to be reading your thoughts and scribbles. My blog is completely random – I talk about anything from a beautiful song to war or dragon’s lairs.
What I didn’t realise though, was the pure joy of realising my words resonate with people from all over the world. A tiny little ‘like’ is such a cool thing. It says that someone on the other side of the world, or in your own neighbourhood, found something in your mind that they like.
I have a very faithful ‘liker’ who I’ve never met (but who I’m so grateful for), nor would have known at all had it not been for blogging. He’s from Canada and seems to spend a lot of time going on mad hikes, taking the most exquisite photographs. I’m from Africa and the last time I hiked on a mountain was about 10 years ago. But something in me resonates with him.
It’s that kind of connection, the finding of kindred souls (for want of a less romance-ridden expression) that gives blogging an even bigger appeal for me. I meander around the net, reading blogs and posts – some make me nod vehemently in agreement, others irritate, some make me cry while there are some that just make me mad.
The cool thing is, wherever you are in the world and whatever you do; a housewife in a small town, a high-flying CEO in a massive city, a student in an ancient university town or a passionate hiker from somewhere that’s mostly cold; you can share who you are with billions of people.
But it’s not about reaching out and touching someone – it’s about reaching out and being touched. Everyone has a story and everyone’s story is unique. The theme may be similar, but because each person is totally unique, their stories all carry their very own personal stamp. And I love stories. I love being given the honour of climbing inside someone else’ mind for a little while – to gain some of their particular brand of wisdom or insight.
I know some people bemoan the fact that the web is filled with too much nonsense and that our children are suffering for it. But as with almost everything, there are two sides. Connecting for a moment with someone from a different world and catching a glimpse of the essence of someone else’s life (a bit like Google Street view is doing) is a privilege and I believe will go a long way in quashing dreadful notions like xenophobia or prejudice.