What’s the one thing you have come to appreciate most in the past year? How do you express gratitude for it?
I used to have a social life...in real life. I used to go out for lunch or spend Saturday night in a bar or have friends over to play board games. I used to throw fun parties and cook dinners and a good number of people would attend because I'd lived in the same place for 22 years and I knew everyone.
Then I moved to the other side of the country to a city where I didn't know anyone. Not a single person. For some strange reason, I thought it would be easy to continue to have a real social life, with regular face to face interactions. I thought I would still go out on Saturday nights and meet lots of new people and invite them over for dinner and drinks.
What was I thinking?
Meeting new people is NOT easy. I discovered that I am actually painfully shy and that regular face to face interactions with strangers causes me to shrivel into a small pile of anxiety. I began to lose my ability to form complete sentences...unless I was talking to the stray cat that I had recently adopted.
For this reason, I learned to greatly appreciate the internet. The internet saved me from becoming a complete recluse who has no contact with the outside human world. (Again, I'm great with cats.) Facebook helped me to stay connected to family and friends on the other side of the country. Many times, these electronic chats saved me from sinking into lonely despair.
I also used the internet to connect with strangers. I used to discount this form of communication, thinking that speaking with someone I don't know who I can't see or actually hear isn't a valid way to communicate. I feel differently now. Of course, talking to someone face to face is always preferred. But when that's not possible, communicating with like minded people through online communities (like #reverb10 !) can be valuable.
I have found so much inspiration through the internet! Ideas, prompts, tutorials, new knowledge...creative motivators abound. Without the internet, I probably would not have learned about art journaling and if I had, I probably would have been limited in my ideas for what to create. I have read countless inspirational stories about people following their artistic dreams and this has been helping me to slowly move in that same direction.
So I have grown to appreciate the internet for it's ability to connect me with the outside world when I felt so isolated and bored. Those of us who spend this much time on the web sometimes get a reputation for being hermits with a lack of social skills and few contributions to society. But I argue that the resources, knowledge, and relationships I've gained through this portal have been well worth the hours of sunlight I didn't soak up, the bars I haven't visited, and the parties I haven't thrown.