Thursday, September 13, 2007

My "Little" Circle of Friends

I know I seem to keep coming back to this theme but I am still in awe of the power of communication on the Internet. Just a mere 3 months ago, I learned about and began a journey into Twittering and Webcasting.

I listened to my first webcast in July. It was an EdTechTalk webcast and the only reason I knew about it was because a woman I have never met opened herself up to me in Classroom 2.0 and told me to listen. Lisa Durff, I was to find out later, is an incredibly passionate educator, whose goal seems to be to promote webcasts and blogsites. She is the town crier for all things important happening online and I love her for that!

Since then, I became an intern at the Webcast Academy, met some more incredible people, began hanging out at Second Life at the recommendation of some of these people, met some more incredible people, started a Twitter account and met more people, and, here I am, three months later, with a nice list of people I now consider my friends.

I find myself looking forward to reading their blogs, awaiting their messages in Twitter, anticipating their comments on my blogsite, socializing with them in Second Life and enthusiastically chatting with them in webcasts and on Skype calls.

But the real test of these friendships came just today. Last night I sent out a message on Twitter that my students' blogsite was up and rolling. I invited my followers in for a look, not really expecting anything. What I got was comments - really thoughtful and caring comments - from people who don't really know me, except online. People who took time out of their busy schedules to help make blogging worthwhile for my students. People who did what I would hardly expect from colleagues I see every day.

And I should have known this would happen. I should have anticipated it way back in June. It was then that Christine and I got our webcam. Then, that we sent out an invitation to anyone in Classroom 2.0 who wants in to come Skype us so we can try it out. And our call was answered. By Skip Zilla and Kelly Christopherson, by David Jakes and David Warlick. We had a wonderful chat and signed out, surprised and elated that people came to talk.

I should have figured it out then. I should have known that, in the online world, friendships are made quickly and become strong. In the online world, people want to help out. In the online world, when you reach out, there are always people reaching back.

So thank you to my "little circle of friends". Those who helped me make it through the Webcast Academy - Jose, Jeff, Durff, Alice, Maria, Lee, Carla, everyone - those who listen to my twits and act on them - Colleen, Jen, Karen - those who befriended me in Second Life and helped me stop banging into walls - Kevin, Lori, Cheryl, Jen, Colleen - and everyone else who has touched my life by being my online friend. You are the very reason I keep coming back.

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

We are the lucky ones!! You have expanded our lives with your friendship!!
Jen

Colleen said...

Wow! What a heartfelt and uplifting post. I needed that.

Early in the summer, we had a chat about online friendships at TBC. I was struck by how much I genuinely cared about the friends I had found in SL and how close I felt to them. And I would compare that to the almost total lack of feeling I had for the people I saw every day at work. After a while we came up with two explanations for why these relationships are so special.

The first has to do with the fact that relationships offline are often the result of making the best of your surroundings. You "hang around" with the people you happen to live or work near. They are not necessarily the people you have the most in common with or the people you bond with emotionally. The people we meet in our online worlds are coming from all over and friendships are built from a very sure foundation of common interests, goals, concerns, etc.

The other difference is the removal of the physical factor. I think it is human nature to make judgements based on appearance. It's sad but we often fail to befriend people simply because of their physical appearance - whatever that may happen to be - too old, too young, too thin, too fat, too whatever. Chances are good that we miss out on a lot of amazing relationships offline simply because we prejudge. Online, and especially in SL, the physical element is removed. I once read a quote that went something like, "In the real world, you get to know people from the outside in. In Second Life, you get to know people from the inside out." That really sums it up perfectly and I think it explains why we are all struck by the power and beauty of our online friendships.

I wish I could be as concise as Jen : )

Yeah...what she said.

Colleen

Lisa Parisi said...

Jen,
Thank you but it really does go both ways!

Colleen,
I wish I had said all that. It truly is how I feel, too. Befriending people simply because they are in close proximity doesn't always seem to work. The Internet makes it possible to find others far away. How lucky for us all!

Mrs.A said...

I too have been touched by friendships in SL and twitter and am enjoying many of the same friends as you, learning and growing everyday.
Lori

Lisa Parisi said...

How blessed we are to be able to find each other. Someday, Lori, we need to have a f2f, maybe in the middle of the country, so we can really see each other.

Karen Janowski said...

Lisa,
I am so moved by your eloquence! You said it perfectly and I am touched this morning.
Your post summarizes for me why I would love to see my dream realized - to have the chance to travel the country this year, and document how 2.0 has changed each of us and our students. To meet f2f and observe the changes in the classrooms. To record students' perspectives.
(I wish it wasn't just a pipe dream.)

Alice Barr said...

Lisa:

You said what I have been struggling to get out in words for awhile now. Your eloquent post speaks to the power of online communication. My hope is that our students can build the same kind of strong relationships in their work. Thanks!

Lisa Parisi said...

Karen,
When your dream comes true, be sure to stop in and say hello. The one thing I truly miss is f2f connections.

Alice,
Hopefully, the students will make connections. I will be working this year to make that so. Let's talk in June and see if it worked.

Durff said...

That is just plain sweet - thank you!

Saedel said...

Hi Lisa, I know I'm an outsider, but I'd like to let you know that you write beautifully. Your words are so honest I can feel them.

-Saedel

Mr Harrington said...

Hi Lisa - you certainly know that you have a new friend when as recently you just asked out of the blue if you could test out your skype connection with a quick call - believe me we have to pinch ourselves and think that this is pretty amazing and powerful communication and a powerful community - especially to me sitting in a small village in South Wales - keep up the good work :)

Mr Harrington said...

Lisa it would be great if you could join in our next Transglobal Web 2.0 Flashmeeting - you will no doubt meet some friends there and make more - I will send you details soon :-)