Thursday, October 29, 2009

High Tech Community

I'm not a "techie" by any stretch of the imagination, but I've always found myself drawn to new ways of connecting with people.

I embraced email in my early days as a freshman the University of Illinois, spending hours in the dorm computer lab (yes, it was before anyone actually had computers in their rooms, let alone laptops!) typing away on a now-archaic email system.

The challenging part was, not many of my friends even had an email account, so I essentially spent most of my time communicating with other friends in my dorm and across campus.

But it was a start.

A few years later, long before the craze of instant messaging and before anyone even used the phrase "chatting," U of I unveiled its "ntalk" feature that allowed you to chat with someone computer-to-computer. Brilliant!

I spent late nights clicking away on the keyboard, "ntalking" with friends back in Illinois as I spent my summers in New Hampshire with my family. (My friend Dana and I might maintain that we created the "LOL" abbreviation, along with a dozen or so others that never took off. As an aside, I never use "LOL" anymore. Much too common and over-used.)

Since then, I've dabbled in other high-tech communication tools - blogging, texting, Facebooking. I'm just starting to try my hand at Twitter, although I admit I haven't fully embraced it yet and am hesitant to take it on, knowing my tendency to go all-out with things. (Perhaps I need to link it to my Facebook account so that it doesn't become "just another thing" I have to do.)

Recently, I've discovered that my main source of communication often isn't face-to-face or even phone calls anymore.

While some would argue that might put up a barrier or shut me out of truly getting to know someone, I'd argue the opposite. My Facebook friends would tell you they probably know more about me than anyone. I've connected with people and developed relationships through email, Facebook and blogging - people whom I otherwise would not to have reached out to in a more personal manner.

Certainly more comfortable than the written word than trying to get my thoughts out in person, writing (whether on this blog or in a Facebook update or in an email to a friend) has helped me focus my thoughts, share my experiences and move me forward in a positive direction.

As with everything, I probably need just a little more balance.
(Someone close to me recently described me as "intense," to which my response was, "Intense about what?" His reply, "Everything.")

I guess a personality trait like that is helpful in marathon training.

He's right, though, it does spill into everything - communication included. If you want to reach me (and get a quick response), your best bet is to text, email or Facebook. (I've become semi-obsessive about checking these, thanks to having mobile access through my phone. Do I really need to be that connected?)

My mom, who doesn't text, complains that I don't return her calls as promptly as I reply to a text from my dad. I often leave voicemail messages unchecked, while rarely take more than a few minutes to reply to an email in my inbox. For me, texting is almost like instant-messaging via phone.

So what does this have to do with running and marathon training?

While surfing aroung on Facebook, I stumbled upon a post on the Manchester City Marathon page from a New Hampshire blogger and runner giving his thoughts on the course. Having run the course many times myself, I was interested in hearing someone else's take on it.

I read that post and many more. The web is a funny thing. You can easily get lost. I found myself jumping around on his site, taking in his experiences and advice. I found myself admiring the support of this online community and the moments they take to document their lives. I found myself relating to some of the experiences and finding inspiration in others.

I fired off a quick email to send my compliments to the site (if he's like me, feedback is always appreciated) and share a link to my own blog. Not surprisingly, I got a relatively quick response that included even more tips of sites to visit and features I could add to the blog.

RunBlogger's site is amazing - well designed, chock-full of information, widgets, tabs, automatic emailing, counters, ads and all sorts of other techie things I don't know how to do. (Yet?) Mine is like the archaic ntalk to his super-charged instant messaging program.

I even found a common friend, Matt, who was the feature of the most recent post on the quest to run a marathon and raise money through Team In Training.

I only wish I'd found RunBlogger's site earlier in my training, as I think it might have provided another outlet of support and encouragement. Not to worry, though, since I don't have plans to stop running after the marathon. I'm sure I'll be a frequent visitor to this site and others.

Runners like me - you know, the people who aren't out to win races, the ones who are out there to better their lives, achieve personal goals and just plain have fun - are everywhere. We like to share our experiences. And I think we know the value of learning from others.

I'm glad that this high-tech community gives us the forum to keep doing that. Things sure have come a long way since ntalk.



  1. While I fall somewhat victim to many of these same technology addictions (note the 30 minute response to this) - texting, Facebooking (yes, it is now a verb), etc. - there's still nothing like face-to-face communication and eye contact. ;)


  2. I can't say enough about how much I appreciate the kind words you've written about my Runblogger site - thanks!!! It's been a steady learning process, and like you, I jump into new things full force and with intensity, but in reality I've only been doing it since January. Let me know if I can help with anything, and be careful with Twitter and Dailymile - I find them far more addictive than Facebook!


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