When I started this blog I joined a community. In some respects, I joined a secret society. There is no hand shake, no code word, no visual indicator that allows bloggers to nod in passing as if to say, "we belong." All we have is a URL that links us to each other and an RSS feed that reminds us that there are others out there. Simply put...just words on a page to tell our story, whatever that story may be.
Occasionally, real world circumstances occur that remind us all that the blogosphere, as big as it may be, is still a community that relies on the people behind the keyboards. When Om Malik informed his community of readers and fellow bloggers of his current health condition, I admired his courage and dedication to share his life with so many perfect strangers.
When news of Ashley Spencer's death (a popular member of the twitterati) broke on Twitter and Utterz, the out pouring of support was amazing. Tweets were captured in one place for all to review, badges were created and donation widgets embedded to help support the 20 year olds family. Over 65 people replied to the Utterz post and the community has raised nearly $6,000 in donations for her family.
When Andrew Olmsted wrote a final post for his blog prior to being killed in active duty in Iraq and enlisted a friend to upload his final words, I felt honored and privileged to gain a little insight about a man I had never met. I was beyond moved at the caring words he had for his wife and reflected deeply on how his words could provide solace and comfort to so many other grieving family members.
His words were powerful and went beyond war and politics; as he intended. Andrew was one man, of his own opinion, leaving behind a perspective so many of us will never understand but should familiarize ourselves with. One man, in a community of many, believing in a cause and delivering a message. A complete stranger to me who has left a lasting impression on my life and my perspective.
In some ways, I wish I'd never have to read posts, tweets, messages like this again but I'm not as naive as my photo may suggest. All I can do is take notice and absorb these words into my life. We all have a reason for sharing the personal information that we do with perfect strangers. Sometimes the goal is not to educate people about the costs of war or the dangers of cigarettes. Sometimes the goal is to merely share our story in an effort that it will merely be heard.
I for one... am listening.