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Online Connections.

8 August 2012

I’ve been blogging about recovery since December of 2009. I’ve been pretty regular about it, and I don’t think more than three or four days have gone by without a post of some kind in all that time. With a few notable exceptions (Furtheron, Syd, and Mary C) however, I never really made connections in the sober community online. I’ve gone and commented on a lot of sober blogs. And received a few back. But for the most part, I was greeted by a lot of silence in the online sober community. I don’t know why. It’s a thriving community, and there’s generally a lot of interaction.

For some reason, Infactorium never generated a following among them. Maybe because I wrote about things other than sobriety too. I don’t know. Then, once upon a time, I stumbled on to Drugmonkey’s blog, and commented, and he “blogrolled” me. There was a brief flurry of attention to my old blog, from the science community, but it rapidly faded. But that was how I encountered Doc Becca. She started reading Infactorium, and to my knowledge never stopped, including occasional comments.

Then, a few years later, I finally joined twitter, when I got utterly sick and tired of facebook. I discovered that there is a truly robust community of scientists, and that I fit in there reasonably well. Now, to tell the truth, I never really feel like I fit in anywhere, other than at a good meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous. Whether interacting online or in person, I often feel like I am just on the periphery. Unwelcomely trying to edge my way towards the center of the crowd. Uninvited and generally an outsider. In AA, we call that “feeling other”. And it’s common to many, probably most, of us. One of the reasons we drink is to quell that feeling which is so alienating and disquieting.

But the science community on twitter is a special place. People there, half anonymous, half with identities disclosed, write, and share, and participate, despite having enormously different career stages and disciplines. Many of us blog in addition to tweeting, and the community is almost uniformly positive. Science can be a jostling, competitive, hostile place, like any other. So far, it seems, the community of scientists on twitter that I’ve found has avoided those pitfalls.

And so Doc Becca is one of my oldest online friends. I’ve been reading her blog for almost three years, and watched as she’s gone from being a post-doc to now being a funded assistant professor, apparently poised to do great things in neuroscience. I’m envious as hell. She’s also about to get married. I’m slightly less envious of that, given my own recent history of divorce, but I am supportive of people being happy.

In AA, there’s a saying that, “Whenever anyone, anywhere, reaches out, I want the hand of AA to be there. For that, I am responsible.” Through that network, that system of connections and principles, though astonishingly disorganized, millions of lives have been saved, reclaimed, and lived well. Not just those of the alcoholic, but those of their families, business partners, and the strangers that we otherwise impact when we drink. Systems of anonymous strangers can do good in each other’s lives.

So, I’m hoping that my other system of half-anonymous strangers might do a good thing too, something that transcends the cocktail-gathering atmosphere (which I love!) at twitter. I started a PayPal account to give Doc Becca and her husband-to-be a little gift. I’m calling it the Doc Becca Wedding Cake Fund, because that feels like a reasonable goal, with regard to the amount. We’re up to $180. If you know Doc Becca, and want to donate, please do! She’s a wonderful member of the community, and she’s done so much for it, like the Tenure Track Advice Aggregator. Donations will be kept anonymous, unless you’d like to be identified, and are made with a secure PayPal account. There’s about two months before the wedding, and I’d like to send her the gift with a couple weeks to spare.

I have traveled around and met up with several people from twitter in the real world. I’ve gotten so much there. I want to give something back, something tangible, that celebrates one of our own. I want to contribute. In the real world, if a friend were getting married, I’d be giving a gift, or going to the wedding, or at least sending a card. Well, it’s the 3rd millenium. Twitter is the real world, for a lot of us. Let’s do something.

9 Comments leave one →
  1. 8 August 2012 08:33

    Happy to have been a small part of this and thanks again for organizing. I’m not the most regular commenter on anyone’s blog (sorry), in part because I usually read via Instapaper on the train where there is no internet, but I think the online science community is a wonderfully supportive place.

  2. Mona permalink
    8 August 2012 09:25

    I didn’t know it was so important for bloggers that people respond on the blog itself! This is a great initiative, but be patient as fundraising can be slow. Wish you had been around when I was raising money for Habitat! πŸ˜‰

    • 8 August 2012 09:53

      It’s very validating when people comment! I’m slinging my psyche and ego out into the ether. It’s meaningful when people respond. Thanks so much.

      • Mona permalink
        8 August 2012 10:54

        Well, I’ve read every post (i think) for months! It’s always good. I usually just leave a quick note on twitter if I was especially moved. Now I know to do it here. πŸ™‚ Unrelated: The Fringe show I saw last night was a guy doing a monologue that could have been a collection of your blog posts. It was slightly eerie.

  3. 8 August 2012 10:42

    Indeed, I’ve been following your journey since DrugMonkey blogrolled you! I’m very humbled by all of this, Dr24. Thanks so much for your generosity.

    • 8 August 2012 11:12

      No prob! You deserve it! Hopefully, you have a paypal acct of your own so I can wire the gift?

  4. 8 August 2012 11:57

    I think even people who are not alcoholics suffer from the alienating and disquieting feeling of being an outsider, I know I certainly do.
    I have also been reading and apologize for not commenting. I suffer from a different syndrome as well, the one where you worry whether your comment is relevant, or insightful, and whether it would be better to simply not comment at all than make a fool of yourself.

  5. 8 August 2012 12:06

    I certainly didn’t mean to admonish my readers for not commenting!

  6. 9 August 2012 10:06

    I’m glad that you are here. I do reading in batches anymore. It just seems to suit the time frame that I have for reading blogs. Twitter is cool but I can’t seem to get the same dynamic going as I do with blogging. Maybe you have some thoughts on how to do that.

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