Twitter is a pretty accurate reflection of the best and worst of our world. Like real life, Twitter is full of cunts. Cunts who can’t spell or use proper grammar. Cunts who cower behind pseudonyms and hurl venomous insults at athletes, celebrities, and politicians. Cunts who propagate abhorrent dogma, false truths, and juvenile superstitions. I try not to follow such cunts, but sometimes their cuntishness ends up on my timeline. When it does, I like to retweet a photo of a baby animal or a piece of sportswear, just to remind myself, and the Twittersphere at large, that in spite of all the cunts in this world, there are heart-tickling puppies and talented human beings who create beautiful football shirts.
In the few days before and after my surgery, my Twitter followers provided a welcome shot of support. It made me feel more confident about my surgery, and more driven to overcome the challenges that would arise in its wake. What’s more, the tweets of support I received made me feel, dare I say, important.
Someone in Australia wished me well ahead of my surgery. Someone in Columbus, Ohio wanted to know how I was holding up after the surgery. Someone in England saw a documentary on autoimmune diseases and sent me a note saying it reminded him of me. People across Canada, the United States, and the United Kingdom all wanted me to come out of my surgery in good shape.
These people aren’t strangers, because I have communicated with them all. They follow me and follow them (on Twitter, just to be clear), but they’re people whom I’ve never met. I’ve never visited the cities, countries, or even continents where some of them reside. Yet somehow, we’re friends. We’re friends who share common interests, ranging from IBDs to running, from Arsenal to atheism.
Now this isn’t to say that I didn’t receive or didn’t appreciate e-notes of support from the friends, family members, and work colleagues who I actually know in the flesh. Of course I received them, and of course they lifted my spirits, and of course I’m grateful for them. But the stream of messages from people who only know me from my internet presence made me feel as though I’m making an impact, even a tiny one, on the wider world.
Bart Simpson once asked Homer, who had recently gained fame for his ability to take cannonballs in the gut, “What’s it like being famous, dad?” Homer replied, “People know your name, but you don’t know theirs. It’s great.” I’ve always wanted to be famous in that way, minus the shots to the stomach. That’s not what my pelvic pouch was created for. I’d like to be known beyond my immediate friends and family and colleagues. That’s why I got into radio. That’s why I wrote my book. That’s why I keep this blog. I know I’m not famous though, not even close, and the messages I received on Twitter (and Facebook, and Instagram, and this blog) weren’t from fans, but friends. But the fact that many of those friends are people I’ve never had the pleasure of meeting in person made me feel like I mattered to this world. If only just a bit.
And so, virtual friends, I thank you.
Image via Sabrina&Company