When I was a kid, I had a “pen pal” who lived in Japan. I can’t for the life of me remember his name now, but I really used to look forward to getting his letters in the mail. Heck, when I was a kid, I used to look forward to getting ANYTHING in the mail. Back then, cards from my grandmother in Corpus Christi held the promise of a crisp five-dollar bill (or maybe even a small check!).
Since it generally requires actual handwriting with a pen or pencil, the concept of having pen pals seems like something from history class now, with the advent of the internet. However, I thought this was something that my kids might enjoy now, and a quick Google search yields plenty of options for finding pen pals around the world.
I was thinking about how social networking is really just taking the concept of a pen pal onto the internet. I recently taught a webinar about the basics of blogging and social media marketing, and I mentioned that virtually everything that you do in person now has an equivalent online.
In this case, many of my friends from ActiveRain are really just pen pals when you think about it. Although I have had the pleasure of meeting many of my online friends in person, and speaking with countless others, there are literally hundreds of people that I consider friends whom I only know from our banter back and forth via the written word. Pen pals!
I was never that great about writing letters when I was younger, and I will readily admit that this hasn’t changed much as an adult. I am terrible about procrastinating with “thank you” notes. In fact, I had a stack of names and good intentions when I sat down to write notes for my birthday party (which was in AUGUST, mind you), yet I never got around to mailing them out. Now that so many months have passed, it seems more embarrassing somehow to send them. I would welcome your opinions on this topic, frankly.
Outside of the business benefits, I guess there are really a number of reasons that I enjoy the social interaction here on AR:
- It allows me to develop friendships with people in areas and states that I am unfamiliar with
- I can make a LOT of friends pretty easily, just by being consistent with my blogging and commenting
- I feel like I vindicated myself as a pen pal, since I seem to do a better job here than I did back then!
If you are one of my online buddies, I want to thank you for making 2008 more palatable for me. This was a tough year for many in our industry, and the support that I found here made the bad stuff seem easier to tolerate. I am certainly blessed on a personal level, but I can confidently state that AR has given me a huge boost of confidence in my business.
Thank you so much for your friendship!
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