I used to believe that the internet is not a great place to start a friendship. It doesn't provide the proper environment for a relationship to flourish. Anonymity, lack of personal contact, distance, possible doubts and suspicions, could not be the right foundations for a strong friendship.
And then I found Sparkpeople.
The whole situation here reminded me of this quote I had read about friendship:
Here, in this community, we are all tied by the same problem, the same battle, the same goal. We're fighting the same enemy. We're here for the same purpose and we have similar stories and experiences to share. And that's how a friendship begins.
It may not be the same as with the people who have been in our lives for years, with whom we've grown together and who've seen us through different periods of our lives. But Sparkfriendships are important, too. They are people who give us support when we need it the most. They are people who don't judge us when we slip because they've been there, too. And they are people who don't know much about us and their opinion is usually not biased. Most importantly, they are people who witness our struggle to change our lives for the better. Can this be unimportant?
Today I went through my Sparkfriends' list. Mixed feelings were born. Several of them haven't been here for months or even more than a year. Some others have even deleted their pages. Vanished into thin air. I never learned whether they reached their goals, whether they really got some help, whether they found support somewhere else or just quitted. I really wish they 've found their way to fix anything they didn't like in their lives. And I can't help but wonder, did they ever understand what this is all about?
Sparkpeople is not only about counting calories and fitness minutes. It's not only about reading articles and learning from the experts. It's mostly about what its name says. It's about the people's spark. That's what makes the difference. The support, the shared experiences, the common disappointments, the mutual pride in success, the ability to say again and again "You too? I thought I was the only one!"
How much I wish I could explain the importance of this to all the people who abandoned this site without having reached their goals.
But what is a true friend?
Isn't this what Sparkfriends keep doing every day? Isn't this the reason we all come here?
So, I made a decision. I'll stop by all these friends' pages and remind them that even if they've ceased to believe in themselves, I still believe in them. They may never stop by and read it. But they may just make a quick stop and manage to use this little spark of motivation and reignite their passion for change. They may remember that they had made some friends here. Maybe of a different kind but really important to their changing process. And they might decide to come back and try again.
They just might.
And the friends lost in cyberspace may actually be reunited and re-inspired to continue.
It's definitely worth the try.