Small-Town Mentality on the Internet


There’s this mentality that blossoms in rural communities. It’s the impulse to help, the willingness to ensure the welfare of those around you. It’s a big sense of community that tends to forge itself in small towns. Everyone takes care of each other. Everyone cares deeply. Everyone bands together. Well, that unique sort of unity isn’t confined to geography anymore. Because of the Internet, it’s spread outwards in a very real way. The small-town mentality has breached the limits of physical proximity.

I got to experience this sense of extended family in a real way this week.

Early Wednesday morning, I received a text that my grandmother was at the hospital, but things were under control. By Wednesday night, things were not going so well. I was scared; incredibly scared. My grandma, who we fondly called “Nonnie,” was in bad shape and I was an hour and a half away from home. I was upset, far away, and fairly out-of-the-loop.

I did what any other person would do. I turned to my friends and family for support.

A few phone calls and many tears later, I found myself at my computer. I sent out a simple status on Facebook:

Looking for prayers today…

The response was heart-warming. No one asked why or demanded to know details. No one pushed or prodded or demanded information that I wasn’t ready to share. They simply responded that if I needed prayer and support and love, they’d give it. It was an unconditional response that I can’t even begin to quantify. The support spread beyond Facebook. I got messages on Twitter. I received phone calls. I was contacted via Skype. The effort these members of my online community took to make sure I felt their love and support was touching.

This isn’t to say that my local community hasn’t been helpful; I had a boatload of empathetic individuals around me during this period of time. My geographical community has been helpful. This post, however, is meant to highlight the way that social media has completely removed the limits of physical location. A simple call to action spawned responses from all over the United States. We are connected. We are a community.

These people I interact with online are just as much a real and true community as any town along some rural route in the boondocks.

And in case you were wondering, Nonnie is on the road to recovery. She’s doing remarkable well for how serious her situation was just yesterday. We are all pleased with her progress. So, on behalf of my family, I’d like to thank everyone for the kind words, the support, the thoughts, and the prayers. Because of my community, I was able to pull through and stay strong through a very unnerving few days.

Thank you.

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