The Year of Social Media

For me (and maybe for many of you), 2009 will be remembered as the year that social media changed my life.

It hasn’t been a huge, dramatic sea change. I haven’t discovered a new religion or, you know, started eating meat again.

Let’s see if I can convey this adequately in words.

Becoming a parent can be extremely isolating. Within the last five years, I had two babies, moved to the suburbs, went from WAHM to SAHM to WOTHM. While I still keep in touch with a handful of IRL friends (without social media, too), I have lost touch with many more. Friends I went to high school or college with, people I moved away from when I left the South Side.

In the past year, though, I have discovered so many more people and I feel as if I’m fast on my way to becoming friends with many of them. Social media and blogging have helped me overcome the isolation I have felt since the triple-whammy of motherhood, ‘burb living, and full-time work.

I don’t know what happens in other cities, but the Pittsburgh social media scene is incredible. There are the Burgh Moms (and Dads), which is how this all started.

And then I joined Twitter. And holy cats — despite my initial skepticism, Twitter has been very, very cool. (I am on Facebook, too, but honestly, I forget about Facebook. I could not tell you the last time I checked in there. I should get on that.) And I went to Pod Camp, and learned stuff and met more people.

And Twitter spawned Tweet-ups. And tweet-ups (and blogging) spawned… philanthropy.

Stay with me here.

There are lots of causes and such on the Interwebz. But here are a few that I actually participated in, primarily because Pittsburgh peeps were the prime movers.

In March, a contingent of us Marched for Maddie.

In the past two months alone:

Burgh Baby launched Christmas Crazy and gave a bunch of toys to tots — about half a bus full — plus piles of gift cards to area shelters.

Las Velas kicked off the Make Room for Kids Fundraiser with a night of $5 margaritas and a mariachi band. All I had to do was show up and order something yummy. Ginny put the donation button on her blog on Monday, and we’re already over $7800 toward the goal of $10,000. It hasn’t even been a week. If you haven’t thrown your two cents in, go ahead and do it now.

And for this Sunday, Abby has organized a fundraiser (A Bit of Social Justice) for the CHS Food Pantry. It’s at the OTB Bicycle Cafe; it’s during the Steelers game (yes, the game will be on); fantabulous prizes are being raffled off; and food and beer will be available. I had committed to going with my children, and then I got free Steeler tickets, but then we couldn’t find a babysitter. So Dan is going to the game with his cousin, and I am going to the fundraiser — with my kids; you’ve all been warned — and if you’re not going to the game, you should come to OTB Bicycle Cafe, too.

Anyway, I do have two points here, and I hope the caffeine reaches my brain so I can make them coherently.

First, these things are EASY PEASY. I cannot organize a toybox, let alone a fundraiser, but because of efforts of people like Burgh Baby, Ginny, and Abby I don’t have to. All I have to do it click a button or show up. And isn’t 95% of life just showing up? (90%? Woody Allen? I forget and I’m not looking it up.)

Second, I think, I think, that by participating in these fun, easy events, I am teaching my children something. They went on the March for Maddie with me, and they will be attending A Bit of Social Justice at OTB Bicycle Cafe. When the Girl Scouts are in the lobby of my Giant Eagle for food donations, we purchase extra and hand it over. I don’t hit them over the head with any messaging (the March was so babies could be born healthy; food donations are for people who aren’t as blessed as we are). As far as they are concerned, I want volunteering events and/or donating (we also donate a fair amount of used clothing and toys to Goodwill or at Freepeats) to just be something we do.

And, because of Pittsburgh social media, now it is. I love all of yinz.

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Updated: Since I wrote this post, Make Room for Kids has raised another $1000+. Holy cats! (And, no, I’m not saying that me writing a post and another $1000 are in any way related.)

Updated again: $10,000. In five days. Wow. Pat yourselves on the back. As Ginny would say: Srsly.