My Internet People

"Although I have felt compelled to write things down since I was five years old, I doubt that my daughter ever will, for she is a singularly blessed and accepting child, delighted with life exactly as life presents itself to her, unafraid to go to sleep and unafraid to wake up. Keepers of private notebooks are a different breed altogether, lonely and resistant rearrangers of things, anxious malcontents, children afflicted apparently at birth with some presentiment of loss."

- Joan Didion

I love a good quote. Quotes are just words, after all, and as a J.K. Rowling character said, "Words are, in my not-so-humble opinion, our most inexhaustible source of magic." Those Joan Didion words do the magic of making me feel more at peace with some of my anxious tendencies.

Tendencies which make me so happy to live in the age of the Internet, and to have found my Internet People.

Some of the people I'm closest to in life have more in common with the former breed, those "blessed and accepting" people, and therefore may not have the same need as I have for Internet People. My older sister, for instance, someone who has always been cooler than me, is a little too well-balanced and social to spend time searching for online validation. And my younger sister, while good for nerd-ing out with on Harry Potter and such, is also a little too cool to spend as much time on the Internet as I do.

We need people in our lives who are our opposites, people who have different opinions, different strengths. But it's also nice -- during say, an election year -- to find your Internet People. They are the people who read the same books and watch the same shows as you, who give you relief during a Presidential debate, who root for the same team as you. And they may not always be the people who you're sitting next to on the couch.

When something is happening in the world, like the release of an Adele or Beyoncé album, an election, a tragedy, I need to know what my favorite Internet People are saying. I know I will find comfort or clarity in their opinions, because they are usually the same as mine, and they can usually articulate them better.

I love my Internet people for their observations, insight and sass:

and humor:

and poetry:

                                          (Amy Turn Sharp)

                                          (Amy Turn Sharp)

And YouTubers who you wish could be your IRL best friend, who challenge your ideas and make you think, and whose creativity inspires you:

(Rosianna Halse Rojas)

Why I need my Internet People I can perhaps discover with a therapist someday. I know it's unrequited. But I'm grateful for this one-sided love. 

On writing again (because of my 18-year-old grandpa)

I’ve always kept things.

Notes that were passed to me in 5th grade, the lined notebook paper carefully folded into origami-like shapes. Birthday and report cards, movie and plane tickets. Maybe it’s a genetic thing, because my family has kept things too. A sweet 50th anniversary message on a Western Union telegram from 1942. My mom’s to-do list before my parents' wedding. And something I recently found, 54 yellowed pages of a diary from 1921, written by my 18-year-old grandpa. 

Tuesday, Feb. 1, 1921
I had a date with Mary Sturm tonight. We went to the tabernacle and had a little scrap afterwards. Fights help along in love affairs you know, so I don’t mind very much. She did make me mad but I guess that was because she wasn’t feeling well.

My grandpa died when I was 13. Because he was so quiet, I’m not sure what he thought of his three granddaughters. We would put on “shows” for he and my grandma, taking turns singing “I Think We’re Alone Now” by Tiffany and Ritchie Valens's “La Bamba” into an unplugged microphone. He’s been gone for 20 years. In that time many of the moments I spent with him are lost, and I'm not left with much. I remember his big, square-ish, plastic-framed glasses and his uniform of slacks and a cotton polo shirt. I remember him observing everything, only speaking when necessary. I remember he liked Andes chocolate mints and solitaire. In my memory, he is always old. But somehow his diary from 1921, with his neat lines of careful cursive, feels alive to me, like the things he wrote about are happening right now in some alternate universe as I read. 

Monday, Feb. 7, 1921

Mary explained herself to my satisfaction today and all is well. We arranged for a date tonight and I had it. Tonight is really the first time she has let me know that she likes me a little. You can always tell you know.

I’m glad he took the time to write down some of the daily occurrences in his life ("Tuesday, March 22, 1921: I got a new fountain pen today"), even if only for a few months almost 100 years ago. Because if not, I never would have known that on New Year’s Day in 1921 there was a dance, where he “looked on, but did not dance". That before he married his wife and my grandma, Mary, there was another Mary. That he said things like “I had a peach of a time.” That he, like his granddaughter 80 years later, was the assistant editor of the yearbook.

I write every day. Social media posts. Advertising copy. Texts and emails. But I haven’t really written in a long time. 

Write down the little goings-on of your life, even if they seem trivial to you now. It may mean something to someone one day. 

Recommended reading: Famous Writers on the Creative Benefits of Keeping a Diary