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.

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.

21 thoughts on “The Year of Social Media

  1. You are so right. The key element in social media is the “social” part…people interacting with people. And when they come together to help others – bingo!

  2. It should say a lot that while I live in Baltimore, it’s the Pittsburgh blogs on which I frequent and participate. You, and all of those you mentioned have tremendous heart, and I look forward every morning to clicking over to see what you have to say.

    • You’re an ex-pat, are you not? I said the sappiest thing to Firemom (a couple of comments down) about the Pittsburgh state of mind. I think it’s something a lot of blogs here and away capture. And Ginny is pretty much the champ of that.

      Thanks for all of your comments, here and where ever else you frequent!


      • Yes, I am an ex-pat. We moved from Pittsburgh when I was 6, but my Dad’s family all still lives there and I visit often. We’ve lived in many places, but we always carry The Burgh with us.

        For me, it’s like Ginny is the Queen Bee… I started reading her first… I can’t remember how I ever found her the first time… maybe a mention on the PG or another Pittsburgh sports blog… then I found so many more of you through there.

        Thanks again, and have a great holiday season!


  3. I love how social media has helped me connect/reconnect with people. I too was doubtful, but I am a convert/addict. I am jealous of the Pittsburgh Moms (and Dads) community, which sounds amazing by accounts on your blog and others that I’ve discovered through you. I still love Pittsburgh and consider it my home town. (I didn’t move there until 18, but spent 14 years there which is more than double the time I’ve lived anywhere else.) If Pittsburgh can get better public transportation and a bigger indy music scene I might be able to convince my husband to move there. Otherwise, I’ll have to satisfy myself with voyeurism via blogs, Twitter, and (occasionally) Facebook. Oh, and there is reminiscing with other ex-pats, too. We have a good chunk of the Pittsburgh Diaspora here on the third coast!

    • It’s hard to describe what an organic thing the social media “scene” here is. I would think that it could/should/does happen everywhere, but I don’t know. Because I live here.

      Do you visit often? I can always get a group together for drinks! And, when/if husband and I make it back to the windy city, we will expect to have drinks with you & yours. Because I know you’re so bored there. 🙂

      Thanks for the comment. It’s been really nice to reconnect with you, too.

      ciao, bella,

      • Sadly, I usually only visit once a year now. (The short commute was the only thing that made living in DC better than living in Chicago. Back then I was usually back every other month.) Still, I’m sure we’ll get out at least once next year for something or other. I’ll let you know when. I’d love to meet up.

        And if you come to Chicago, please let me know. We are familiar with several local drinking establishments.


  4. I’m not included in the Pittsburgh group (freaking Ohio, bah, posts like this make me miss my hometown) but I loved the heck out of this post. (And, you know, I participate in the March for Maddie with yinz guys so, WIN!)

    But, yes, 2009 has been AMAZING for me in many ways and social media has contributed to that amazingness. I have met people who have just been so awesome to/for me. I have been encouraged. I have been challenged. I have just been awed by the Interwebz this year. I mean, I don’t know why. I met my husband via early blogging in 2001 so I don’t know why this year sticks out so much more. But it does. (Not that I don’t like my husband. Of course.) But from reading your post here, I know you get it, too. 2009 was something special.

    I hope 2010 is as well.

    • This is going to sound sappy, but here goes: Pittsburgh is as much a state of mind as it is a place. And you completely get it, too. I had been reading blogs for a couple of years before I started my own. And I did it to be in the community of mom/writers out here, but I was doing it for me (and my sanity), too. But I really think sites like Plurk and Twitter made an even larger difference to me than just having a blog.

      I, too, hope that social media continues to make a difference in my life as we roll into the new year.

      Thanks for the comment!


  5. Meeting you, Dan and your daughters (whom I will happily watch on Sunday) has been one of the best parts about 2009 for us.

  6. I was just thinking about how we pulled together to raise $5000 in the spring. Before Christmas Crazy, I didn’t think we had it in us to do another big thing. I was SO SO SO wrong. I love that Pittsburghers constantly exceed my expectations in positive ways.

    • Aw, shucks.

      But, you know, people like me (li’l ole me) couldn’t do it without people like you & Ginny & Abby (and I know there are others out there — I hope to find more!). It’s all I can do to get through the day sometimes. You and the others give me something bigger to reach for, and a solid dose of perspective. Fortunately, you do not give me delusions of grandeur. I couldn’t do that heavy lifting. (My back, you know.)

      Hope to see you again soon.


  7. Social media makes me go SQUEEEEEEEEEEEE

    i think it’s spiffy and nifty.

    oh yeah and i met all you hot burgh moms *mwar*. OK and Uncle Crappy

    • Someday, soon, IRL, I want to watch you say SQUEEEEEE. I need to see how that looks.

      Social media pays yer bills, bub. And there’s that whole beer angle.

      We are a good looking bunch uncles included.

      Ciao, rpm

  8. […] I’ll be going to next week’s tweet-up anyway (I already have a sitter!). I really like everyone I’ve “met” on Twitter, and as I primarily tweet with Pittsburgh people, I’ve developed a whole new circle of friends. It’s the ’social’ in ’social media’. […]

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