Q is our New Orleans Baby. Goose is our Hurricane Baby. Olive is our Blog Baby.
I suppose you could say that I got knocked up by my love affair with social media. Maguire and I had finally decided that we were done having children. Two was plenty. We were done. Then I went to the BlissDom October 2008 conference in Nashville and slept in a room with Alli Worthington’s baby boy. I knew I was in trouble when I heard myself insisting that I definitely didn’t want a baby. Repeatedly. To no one in particular.
The lady doth protest too much.
By the time I arrived at the BlissDom February 2009 conference, I was already two weeks pregnant. Unbeknownst to me, as I slept in a room with Alli’s baby again and whispered to him how I had so surely resisted his baby temptations.
All total, Olive has attended in-utero three blog conferences between BlissDom, BlogHer, and Type-A Mom. Shortly before she was born, I quipped that I wouldn’t be surprised if she came out with a tagline attached.
The Type-A Mom conference was the ultimate blending of my social media life and my real life. Alli threw me a hand-me-down baby shower, attended by so many of our online friends. I was showered with pink and glitter and polka dots, all of which had once adorned the lives of our friends and their own children.
That is what made it so meaningful: I was able to hold in my hands a bit of the tangible, from the hands of those that exist in a part of my life that is very much intangible.
Why do our relationships with the people we know online mean so much to us? Why do we care so much about these people that we’ve never met or rarely met or may never meet? Where do the lines between our online lives and our real lives blur? When do we stop making the distinction between “online friend” and “IRL friend”?
I have stopped making that distinction with dozens of the friends I’ve met online and not only for those that I have proceeded to meet “In Real Life.” They have become part of my real life because my social media life has become part of my real life.
I arrived at the hospital to deliver Olive with a Nokia E71 phone that would enable me to tweet with my friends during labor. A phone that was given to me by Nokia when I met them at the BlogHer conference in Chicago this year.
A phone that I am madly in love with, in part because of its easy learning curve (I’d never used twitter from a phone before) and fabulous applications (Gravity Twitter app is to die for) and in part because it is the one thing that has staved off feelings of isolation in the middle of the night and during the long nursing hours, trapped in the house. It’s allowed me to twitter my way out of cross-eyed insanity, I promise.Without it, ya’ll wouldn’t have heard from me for a full month. With it, I was able to introduce you to Olive via twitpics directly from my hospital bed.
I arrived at the hospital armed with a Friends of Maddie NICU family support pack. When the head administrator of the hospital, a friend of our family, came in to meet Olive and see how we were doing, I handed him the bag and told him Maddie’s story. I told him about Heather Spohr and how we met online, about our work together on the Overcoming Adversity channel of Blog Nosh Magazine, and about our bonding over a post of mine that she read while her daughter Maddie was in the NICU. Unbelievably, he told me that his daughter reads my blog and he promised to deliver the Friends of Maddie bag to the NICU himself.
Just like that, the lines between my social media life and my real life blurred right into the lives of another family in the hospital.
I arrived at the hospital with you in tow.
Something intangible became very tangible.
As I write this, our community is praying for another Blog Nosh Magazine editor, our beloved Anissa Mayhew. She suffered a stroke on November 17… my eighth wedding anniversary. Ah, the lines. They blur.
Twitter has been abuzz with #prayersforanissa. We pray, each of us in our own way. We check in, we share stories, we talk about Anissa’s boobs… because we know she’d want it that way, while we all wait for news of her progress. While we pray for an end to the bad news this year. Anissa is one of my favorite people. Vibrant, hilarious, and deeply considerate. I fiercely adore her.
People on the periphery of our community wonder at our passion and our compassion. They marvel at our mobilization and poignant loyalty. They wonder what it would take to blur their own lines.
We celebrate together. We pray together. We play together. We hope together.
Thanks to social media, we rarely have to experience anything alone, if we so choose to blur our lines.
Thanks to social media, I have a rare opportunity to blur my lines with you right now:
A precious piece of our life, delivered from our hearts directly into your hands. A bit of the intangible made tangible.
All you have to do to receive Olive’s birth announcement and our family’s holiday card is visit http://bit.ly/velveteenbaby and enter your mailing address. It’s our real family announcement, so no “online” names from us this time. In fact, Olive’s real name was first suggested by a friend of mine on twitter. Ah, those lines.
While you are there, you can grab a fabulous discount code for Velveteen Mind readers, courtesy of Tiny Prints as my featured holiday sponsor. As a former stationery store manager in New Orleans and lifelong stationery fanatic, I very deliberately chose to work with Tiny Prints for their quality (touch the cards. end of story.), attention to detail and service (oy, I could spend four days browsing designs), and authentic engagement and interest in our community. From their announcement:
To celebrate the holiday season, Tiny Prints is offering Megan's readers a special discount on items such as our holiday photo cards, Christmas greetings & party invitations. The timing couldn't be better with the recent launch of our new mailing service. Let us address and mail your cards… Shop now to enjoy free standard US shipping PLUS $10 off holiday card orders of $75 or more OR $30 off holiday card orders of $149 or more using the coupon code VELVETEEN09.
The custom design of our card is a surprise, so I can’t wait for you to receive it! Seriously, Olive spit up all over her pretty little gown while I was taking her photo with her brothers, which they thought was hilarious and I thought just made me want to take a nap… so you gotta see it and tell me that it was worth making everyone look clean awake cute!
By the way, the mailing service? These people are speaking my language. I can’t tell you how many boxes of unmailed holiday cards I have right now. Actually, I can. 6. Going back to 2005. Yeah. But I can’t help myself because I love sending and receiving cards in the mail!
In fact, I would adore seeing your own holiday cards this year, if you are willing to share. I love any chance to show my husband how cute my “online” friends are, as I think he still secretly thinks you are all Dungeons & Dragons players dressed in wizard outfits. Um, not that there’s anything wrong with that.
Send your own holiday cards (truly, I’d love it!) to:
PO Box 6516
Gulfport, MS 39506
And while you are addressing cards, I can think of one other blogger’s family that would probably love to hold a bit of the tangible from you, too…
Friends of Anissa have set up a PO Box to receive cards and any help that you may have to offer. You can simply send a card of support, your own family’s holiday greeting just so they can see some smiling faces, or you can slip in a gift card, as her family could use all of the help they can get. Check out the list of gift cards that will help them through the next few weeks and months, otherwise you can drop a bit of your heart to:
Anissa Mayhew Family
860 Johnson Ferry Road 140-184
Atlanta, GA 30342
We may never be able to fully explain why the relationships we make through social media come to mean so much to us, but they do. I see many of my online friends more often than my college friends. Hell, I see many of you three times a year or more, which is honestly three times more often than I see much of my extended family.
My mom was the first to refer to Olive as our “blog baby.” I thought it sounded silly, but I’ve truly come to think of her as my “Velveteen Baby,” as my friends referred to her in their tweets before and after she was born.
Celebrate her birth with us (including you college friends and extended family I so rarely see) and add your address to receive her birth announcement and our holiday card… Allow us to share our joy with you.
Blur the lines that attempt to divide us.
My boundaries are permeable. Reach out and I’ll deliver a piece of myself into your hands. Always.