This week I had a rather long journey. The details of the journey are rather tedious to recount and are not really the point of this post. So the short version is that I was travelling from Boston to Cape Town via Heathrow. The trip is a 6 hour flight followed by a 14 hour lay over followed by a 12 hour flight. So it was ugly to start, and then I was delayed in Boston for 24 hours. I left my sister’s house in Massachusetts on Monday at 3:30pm local time and arrived home on Thursday shortly after noon.
Fortunately I had access to social media. I was travelling alone and I am not one to strike up conversation with anyone around me. So I began posting on where I was and what was going on. Partly my motivation was to help pass the tedium of the long journey, but as the time went on I found the comments and suggestions both sympathetic and encouraging.
I was careful not to rant, but simply to say – hey this is where I am now. Most of the responses were simply of the ‘thinking of you’. And most comments were from people I interact with frequently online. The whole process was profoundly helpful. Purposely connecting allowed me to feel that I wasn’t alone – others could empathise. It helped me keep reasonably calm and peaceful through the journey.
Then after I had arrived home and checked in with Facebook to announce my final arrival home I saw I had some new messages. One of them was from a recent addition to my Facebook friends – someone who lives nearby but whom I have never met. He offered to pick me up from the airport. As it happened I didn’t need the lift, but I was really moved by the generous offer.
I know that social media (like any human endeavour) is equally blessing and curse. My own experience of social media has been very positive. This experience this week has been a concentration of my broader experience. It gives me a way to connect with people far and wide. It has brought me new friends, and exposed me to new communities of like-minded people. It has also allowed the continuation of connections which otherwise would have died.
So this post is really my way of saying thank you to those who journeyed with me over the last few days. I appreciated even the small gesture of liking my posts. It made the whole thing a lot more bearable.
I know in the grand scheme of things a long journey is not too high on the list of life’s traumas, but being on the receiving end of encouraging notes made me realise that it really does make a difference. Social media is wonderful addition to normal human contact.