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The Power Of Online Friendships

The fire at Serge and Monica Bielanko’s home rocked the blogosphere last week.

We all watched in shock from the safety of our own homes as Monica tweeted about hers going up in flames. We poured our hearts out to them. And in just twelve hours, readers of this blog and others came together to raise $10,000 for the family to help them get back on their feet.

Lisa Belkin writes about this for the Huffington Post in an article entitled “The Internet Rescues a Family.” It’s not the Internet riding to the rescue though. It’s the Bielanko’s friends and community. The Internet is just the highway we’re riding on.

This is just the latest example of communities coming together through the Internet to help those they’ve come to know and love online when crisis strikes. It’s further proof, as if we needed any, that our online relationships are just as real and meaningful as those we form in person. As Carolyn pointed out yesterday, sometimes we like our friends better on Facebook.

Even if we’d get along great in person, sometimes the Internet is all we have. And for a lot of us, it’s how we connect with new friends who really “get” us, who can share our challenges and hopes and dreams as we go through our lives. It’s our online friends who are there at 2 a.m. when the baby won’t stop crying. Who can reach out in the moment when we’re in a car accident or our house burns down.

They may not offer a physical shoulder to cry on, but the support online communities give each other is real. As real as the check the Bielanko’s will write to move into a new home, using funds their friends raised through the Internet.

Has your online community helped you?

Photo: gibsongolfer

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