When Virtual Becomes Real

I’ve been blogging for nearly five years, and doing so has given me the chance to reconnect with old friends, communicate more frequently with relatives, and to develop some virtual connections.

The first time I realized the power of those virtual connections was when I wrote a story about my son Patrick, and an award he had received from the Williams Syndrome Association. Somehow, someone in England read that post and reached out to me because they had a young son with Williams Syndrome and wanted to find out more about our experiences with Pat. That connection then led to the opportunity to meet the family when we were in London a couple of years ago. They invited us over to their house where we spent a wonderful afternoon getting to know each other. Such a meeting would have never taken place without that blog post.

And yesterday was my first opportunity to meet a fellow blogger, Ray Visotski.

Ray (he’s the taller guy) has been blogging for close to 10 years, and his eclectic blog can be found at the wonderfully named Mitigating Chaos. We have been following and commenting on each other’s blogs for a few months now, and I always find Ray’s posts entertaining and educational. Ray is a music buff (his iTunes playlist has 4,000 songs on it), and he has introduced me to some wonderful artists over the past few months.

Ray is from South Carolina, but as fate would have it, he mentioned that he would be up in my neck of the woods this week, and so we were able to plan a get-together. Ray said that he hasn’t had a good Philly cheesesteak in a while, so we decided to meet at a local pizza place and get to know each other IRL.

I think the way we found each other’s blog was through our mutual connection to another blogger, David Kanigan. (And I think our meetup was the second one in the past few weeks among mutual followers of David’s great blog. Talk about being a connector…)

But David wasn’t the only loose connection Ray and I had. Ray has worked in the funeral business for years, and part of that time was spent working for a funeral home and cemetery company in the Philly area. I mentioned that my college roommate’s brother-in-law owned a funeral home business in the Philly area, and the world being small, it turned out to be the same company.

It was a wonderful get-together, and could have gone on for a couple more hours, but Ray had a long drive back to South Carolina ahead of him. So we said our good-byes, hoping that we would get a chance to do this again.

I know a lot has been written about the downside to social media and the Internet, but to me, the upside of such technologies outweighs such concerns. I have always believed from the first time I was exposed to the Internet that the true power of it was in building community.

Blogging, thanks to WordPress, offers the chance to build a community.

And while most connections in such a community will be virtual ones, you never know when virtual may become real.

*image from Bloggers World

29 thoughts on “When Virtual Becomes Real

  1. What a great story! Not everyone would be comfortable meeting another blogger in person but I think this is wonderful! Everyone blogs for different reasons; for me this is a hobby. It is an opportunity to practice writing and meet some cool people along the way. Being able to exchange thoughts about any topic in a respectful manner, particularly in this current political climate, is much needed.

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  2. This is a lovely story of connection and community. I have often wondered if our relationships here can move into the real world. It is delightful to know that in the rare occasion of fate, we can connect on a more personal level. A heart-warming story for sure. Thanks for sharing and happy that you both had time to commune together!

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  3. Thank you, Jim for making the time to meet with me. I share your sentiments. For those of you concerned meeting fellow bloggers, I respect that and suggest you get to know them online first. I have met many and my only rule is I won’t meet a woman unless her husband and/or my wife is present. I have met with around a dozen or so bloggers over the years and it deepens our relationship. I blog for one reason. . . to amuse myself. If anyone else feels it is worth the time to read my words, all that much better. Blog on.

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  4. How nice for you to meet up! I’ve made some great connections in the blogging community, too, though many that I started with (before my 7 year hiatus) have disappeared. One, though, has become my “writing accountability partner,” and we cheer each other on by phone every Wednesday (yes, some people still use such outdated means of communication)!

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  5. I beat you by 5 years more. But I stop and go so my serious blogging only started last year. I agree it’s amazing what connection blog brings. I would love to meet a few bloggers in real life…

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  6. Thank you for sharing Jim, I love to hear stories like this. I have met a lot of different bloggers from around the world and I can fell the connection as we all share the same passion. As I was thinking to shut down the blog, you just have me motivation to keep going. Thank you…And I also wanted to let you know that I now watch the sunrise so many times from a previous suggestion of your blog post. 😊

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