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Kumbaya Alert: Some Online Handshakes Are Really Helpful Hugs

This is not a bell pepper (but in Micronesia, these are a lot cheaper per pound )

I occasionally write for Squidoo, Seth Godin’s ” … platform that gives people a simple way to organize their interests online ….” Squidoo recently began publishing a series of online magazines that cover a range of pursuits, such as crafts, eating healthily, holidays, and business. I had an article recently published in Upmarket, the business publication, called How Pedaling Your Bike Is Actually Pedaling Your Mind. Perhaps that sounds like it should be in the Dubious Metaphors magazine, but they haven’t put that one together yet.

But I’m not here today to argue whether pedaling your mind is self-abuse or psychic stimulation; I’m here to talk about the power of connection, and to try and not get all gooey about it, because when I go gooey, it’s paper-towel-in-triplicate time. The reason I wrote anything for Squidoo in the first place is because I’m a member of Seth Godin’s Triiibes network, a online playpen of successful solopreneurs, new-media mavens, generous gurus of ethical marketing, and outlier lunatics who stumbled in from the pool hall, where they play Bach harmonica fugues for tips. (Note: I am an agent for the outlier harmonica fugue-ists, if you want to talk licensing.)

You can read a lot of circulating cynical comments about the questionable quality of online relationships, and how much of online congress is people trying to sell their self-printed posters of baby harp seals being threatened by real estate agents, but there’s a counterpoint to that: I know that some of the connections are real—and warm. For instance, though I’ve never met Megan Elizabeth Morris, I’ve gotten to know her through her posts on Triiibes as smart, soulful, and witty, and as an indefatigable idea-powerhouse. As Head Solicitor and Sifter of Submissions for the new Squidoo magazines, she invited folks on Triiibes to submit pieces for consideration.

Online Exchange of the Not-Dry-Business Variety
But because she is Megan, and because any exchanges with her have much more than dry business in them, she has been particularly encouraging to me about submitting a series of pieces, and getting my stuff up and read. I cannot refuse a person who can sing operatically in Welsh, so I’m trying. Another Groove Child of Cyberspheric Connection is Jodi Kaplan, who has been working a bit with Megan in herding the cats of Triiibes Squidoo-ing. Jodi is another Triiibes marvel, a person who has consistently offered her broad and pointed knowledge of marketing and copywriting done rightly (and by rightly, I mean effectively and with integrity) to the people on Triiibes, and to her clients and blog readers.

Just out of the blue, Jodi recently profiled me on Squidoo in this Are Professional Writers Worth It? post. What’s she getting out of that? Nuttin. Other than the sweet glow you get when you do a pal a good turn. My point—and though my hair is covering it up, I’m getting to it—is that I can list a whole bushel of connections I’ve made like this on Triiibes and other networks, where just hanging out and golfing ideas around can crack the walls between people. Even though I’ve only known some of these folks in the ether (though some have even come to my house, where I’ve collected their DNA and am making a golem who will help with the vacuuming), I know that they are real. And real good. So, yeah, online connections can be trivial tripe, but they can also be genuine gold.

By the way Jodi, you ended that profile by wondering about the full story of what happened in Micronesia. Well, the full story will come (I have to carefully align all my lies), but Traveler’s Tales just published another part of the story: Read about the 5-dollar bell pepper, and weep, weep for the children. (Or the cereal eaters—good God, the infamy!)

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11 thoughts on “Kumbaya Alert: Some Online Handshakes Are Really Helpful Hugs

  1. Facebook? But doesn’t that mean some cyber-deviant will now go through my tax records? Arrggh, I have to hide the czar’s candlesticks I stole…

  2. Tom, that IS a nice profile piece that Jodi wrote!

    And I loved this part:

    “But most of all he’s a writer who bends, twists, and minces words into entirely new forms. They start out as marks on a page, but end up as magical creatures that simultaneously sparkle, breathe fire, and bring baskets of warm cookies.”

    (Jodi has a magic touch with words too.)

    Thanks to some amazing, generous folks I know only through the ether I now have a place to stay when I visit Ireland, an original piece of art memorializing my beloved kitty, and a very smart business plan (which I really should start implementing). Sure, it’s necessary to sift through a bit of fool’s gold on the interwebs, but the nuggets are there.

  3. Annie, how many degrees of connection does there have to be to make a border crossing? My mother is an O’Brien, you know—maybe you can put in a good word for her (well, her son).

    In 360-degree agreement with you about Jodi’s way with words; the woman is no slouch. And she shares much of what she knows to boot.

    I spend too much time online noodling around, but aye matey, many are the lovely nuggets (and good folks) to be found there.

  4. Joel, you seem to be telling us here that you have died three times. Did you have to eat five times as many peppers to bring you back from the beyond?

  5. Megan, Jodi- yes, the real people are completely congruent with their online personas. Everyone from Triiibes that I’ve met has been. Including the wily author of this blog.

    I like how you point out the power of online interactions to do good, Tom. Like any tool, the outcome of using them comes from the intentions of human beings.

  6. Of course Rick, my actual intentions are world-dominance (with a beautiful soundtrack of screechy violins and evil cackling), but I just haven’t developed the skills yet.

    Wish you could perform your art virtually though—I cracked a tooth biting into a cleverly concealed rock hidden in felafel last night. Oh the humanity!

  7. Oh no! Hope there is no pain, & that your local Deliverer of Dentin Dreams (he actually called me that once, folks) can restore or reconstruct or resurrect, depending on the severity of the fracture.

    It’s a shame though- I understand that you were on the cusp of setting a personal record for longest time between unexpected dental events.

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