How did my life become what I do between checking, posting, and planning my social media content?
It was easy, really. I blame my father. He worked for Texas Instruments, which in its day had cutting edge technologies, such as “The Little Professor” pocket calculator and the TI-99/4A personal computer. So new technology has been a part of my life, practically my whole life!
Though perhaps slightly addicting, those products did not come close to the real-time appeal of social media.
Ah, I remember my first foray into social media, but that clever phrase had yet to be coined. It was merely called “AOL,” aka America Online. The whirl of the modem, the warm coffee – cold before it actually connected – baby in the Snugli, fast asleep by the hum of the modem. Those were the days.
My first actual socialization was in joining a Stay-at-Home Moms (SAHM) Loop on AOL. The group began with over 28 moms in the “loop” and at its official dissolve there were about 10 of us left.
The group posted messages that were responded to by other members in the group, creating a loop of conversation, hence developed the moniker “loopies.” Some of the moms became so close we organized several SAHM Weekends to come together from all over the US: FL, TX, MA, CT, TN, OH! It was, for its time, remarkable!!
We would marvel at the ability to establish relationships, merely through our written words in chats, emails, discussion boards. When we finally met face-to-face, it was truly as if we’d been friends for our entire lives.
At the time, it reminded me of receiving my penpal at 9 years old as part of a Girl Scout project. Thirty-six years later, we still correspond (now via Facebook) though still use snail mail for birthday and Christmas cards. It was that same excitement of making a new friend – with similar interests but with vastly different geography! I still remain in contact – nearly 18 years later, with nine of my original SAHM “loopies” but now we too maintain our friendship through Facebook.
AOL was also my first experience in sharing my faith with a broader spectrum of people. My Catholic faith at that time consisted more of self-righteousness than true wisdom and understanding. My lack of instruction, sacramental participation, and spiritual guidance, along with a flat-out lack of compassion, provided many awkward opportunities to put my “Sunday attendee box-checker“ foot in my mouth.
Yet even in 1995 I understood the great power the Internet provided to share faith ideas over many miles. In 1991, John Paul II coined the phrase New Evangelization but I had yet to discover it, let alone harness my new-fangled “toy” to put it into practice. I was busy using this new media to share or discover… recipes (that I never cooked), crochet patterns (that I never made), and parenting tips (ok, these I used!). As the old Virginia Slims slogan used to flaunt, “You’ve come a Long Way, Baby.”
I’d love to hear your stories: your first venture into the World Wide Web, your first experiences of sharing (or not sharing) your faith through any form of social media, and perhaps even just your thoughts on this media evolution as a whole.
Copyright 2013 Allison Gingras
About the Author
Allison Gingras created the Stay Connected Journals for Catholic Women (OSV), including "The Gift of Invitation" and "Seeking Peace: A Spiritual Journey from Worry to Trust." Her ministry focuses on the grace of prayer, Scripture, and sacrament. Allison is the national WINE Steward for WINE: Women In the New Evangelization and hosts A Seeking Heart podcast.