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When The Virtual Becomes Reality

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Thursday, May 24, 2012

You know, I've found myself spending a lot more time on this site over the past few weeks.

When I first started, I would do the basics every day - log my food and exercise, and get as many points as I could and that would be that. I never even bothered to check out the Friend Feed and I rarely read anyone's blog posts. It was pretty much a bare bones approach to SparkPeople. It's not that I didn't think everyone on here was nice or I didn't enjoy adding SparkFriends. I did. I had a couple SparkFriends that I recognized because they frequented my Team message boards, but not too many. It's just that it didn't seem REAL. It was a virtual world with a bunch of people I'd never met and probably never would and this virtual world wasn't part of MY world.

But then things took a super sharp turn. I recall a few weeks ago deciding to just browse through the Friend Feed because I had received some SparkGoodies and sweet messages from a couple people I didn't know. Went through and liked a few statuses...checked out a couple blogs and left some comments. And it was kind of fun. I mean, I'm a self-proclaimed Facebook addict, so I know how this all goes. But still...I thought, "I'm already addicted to FB and Twitter...do I really want ANOTHER social media site? This is why I am not on LinkedIn yet or Tumblr. Can't manage them all!"

Then came what I like to call "the explosion". There was that blog post about my first run of a distance of 5k. I am not sure what it was that was so popular about that one, but I suddenly had an inbox blowing up with comments and gifts and kind words. I have received 390 comments on this one blog entry! As this was my first experience like this, I felt so touched and I vowed to write a personal note to every single person that commented on this blog. Well, I made that commitment when there were about 85 comments. Haha. I believe I managed about 300 return comments. But, man...things started taking off and once I was awarded "Motivator", I could no longer keep up. However, through that crazy few days, I managed to add about 150 SparkFriends (and continue to add each day).

In response to that blog, I realized that all of you are so very REAL and so many people are in need of encouragement and inspiration and most of us are all in the same boat, no matter where we live or what our circumstances in life may be.

I have been up to date on my Friend Feed for the past week. I don't miss a post!!! Yes, I see you all out there! I like any status where someone spins 20 or more. I like ALL statuses of people receiving fitness minute awards and any status that shows someone has worked out or feels great about their health. It's just a "like"...but I see it as a little bit of encouragement that I can give to my friends here on SparkPeople...an "atta girl/atta boy...keep on keepin on!" if you will. I really do read every blog that comes across my Friend Feed now. Don't always comment, but if it resonates with me, I certainly will. I wasn't too involved in my Teams before, but now I am finding new friends there every day as well.

And what has happened as a result of one decision to read through a Friend Feed? I can't even explain it to you. Somehow, this melee of random virtual profiles has transformed into living, breathing, phone talking, text messaging, Facebook friending, struggle sharing, motivation giving, REAL LIFE frienships in MY real world! A divide has been crossed and, somehow, this community is REAL now!

It is the motivation I receive from all my SparkFriends that keeps me positive and keeps me writing these blogs. It's incredibly circular the way this works! I truly believe that, without you, I would not have the motivation that I have or be able to provide any motivation at all.

Thank you so much for being true friends. For being there for me and allowing me to be there for you. Now...Spark on, friends!!! It's a beautiful day!!! I'll catch you on the Friend Feed, eh?
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