Monthly Archives: May 2014

How, On Mother’s Day, Twitter Taught Me the True Meaning of Social Support

Yesterday was Mother’s Day. It is not a holiday I celebrate. I am not a mother myself, and as those of you who know something of my personal history are aware, my relationship with my own mother was critically wounded when she became mentally ill during my adolescence.

I’m generally not much affected by the holiday. It’s been years since I left home, and by now I’ve spent more of my life without my mom than I spent with her. Time heals. But last year I learned that she had died – in 2007. And ever since then I’ve found myself thinking of her much more often, of the mother she was when I was young, and of the mother she became when I was older. And in completing my memoir, which is being released next month, naturally I’ve had to spend a great deal of time digging deeper into my long-repressed feelings towards her, this woman I once loved with all my heart.

And maybe that’s why, on Sunday morning as I was doing my usual Twitter thing, I found myself growing uncomfortable when faced with the steady stream of tweets celebrating moms and motherhood. That’s wonderful, of course, for people who are mothers and who have mothers – they should celebrate. But then I thought, what about those who don’t ? What about all those children – young and old alike – who have lost their mothers? How does it make them feel to be deluged with these reminders of other people’s happy families when their own has been torn apart?

I hadn’t known ahead of time what I was going to tweet that day. I had nothing sweet or tender to offer in honor of the holiday, nothing warm or fuzzy I wanted to say about my mom or anyone else’s. But as I waded my way through my tweetstream, it suddenly came to me that even if I didn’t know what I wanted to say, I knew who I wanted to speak to, this Mother’s Day. Not to the mothers, but to the motherless.

And this is what I posted.

“For all those who can no longer celebrate #MothersDay… Remember #Mom.”


And then I got up and made breakfast. When I returned to my computer about an hour later, my tweet had been retweeted 49 times and favorited 70 times.

I was blown away. Needless to say, nothing I have ever posted on Twitter has ever gotten anything close to that kind of response. As of this writing, there have been 133 retweets and 152 favorites – mostly by people with whom I had no prior connection. And people responded! How they responded. Here are a few of the notes I received:

“I remember my mom too! Its the 1st Mother’s Day without her! Be strong, Lori!”

“I put flowers on my mother’s grave too. Miss her so much today.”

“Thank you. Lovely reminder of our mothers lost too early.”

“Thank you Lori. This is a tough day for a lot of us, but this makes it a little easier.”

I was moved. Deeply, deeply moved. My tweet – 70 characters and a photo – had actually reached people, hundreds of them; it had touched them in a brief yet meaningful way. And when you look at the responses it prompted, it’s apparent that there were different reasons why. Some wanted to share their own feelings about their own lost mothers. Some wanted to offer their support to others who might be in pain. And some were merely grateful to be acknowledged – to be given the recognition that Mother’s Day is not necessarily a day of celebration for everyone. The responses varied. But at heart they all stemmed from the same impulse, our unquenchable desire to communicate our feelings to other humans.

It’s often said that social media is about making meaningful connections, about developing relationships with individuals you wouldn’t normally encounter in your local environment. But there’s a different kind of connection that social media also makes possible. Connecting to strangers. People with whom you have no real relationship and probably never will. People with whom you have absolutely nothing in common, except for this – a shared emotion. A shared feeling, a shared experience. A shared bit of the humanity that’s common to us all.

In its own strange way, social media unites us. We’ve all heard of revolutionary movements being organized through Twitter. We’re all aware of the grassroots activism that’s transpiring every day on the internet. We all know how social media is changing our lives, how it’s connecting people all around the world, how it brings people together, how it makes their voices heard.

And what we’re discovering is that we are not alone. There are millions upon millions of others just like us, in all the countries of the world, who are living and loving and laughing and crying and hurting and dying. We no longer have to be alone with our feelings. We can touch, and be touched. We can share our sorrow. We can share our pain. We can find comfort and support in the hearts of strangers. We can find strength in the swell of humanity that surrounds us, in the knowledge that in some of the most essential ways, we are not many, but one.

It’s a powerful age. And a beautiful one. For the first time in history, we can reach out to our fellow humans, all of them. Knowing that they can respond to us. Knowing that they will reach back.

The 18th Annual Legendary Boonville Beer Festival: May 3rd, 2014

The 18th Annual Legendary Boonville Beer Festival: The bahlest steinber hornin’, chiggrul gormin’ tidrick in the heelch of the Boont Region!

Or so they say up at Anderson Valley Brewing Company, where they host this annual event at the Mendocino County Fairgrounds.

Now I can’t say that Boonville is my favorite of the beer festivals I regularly attend. I personally prefer the festivals at The Bistro in Hayward, most notable of which are the Double IPA festival in February and the Wood-Aged festival in November. In terms of selection and style, these fests offer a larger variety of the kinds of beers I really, really like, and more importantly, they tend to feature a greater number of beers I simply don’t see in my regional market.

However, no local beer festival can match the power of Boonville for sheer good time. That’s because it’s not merely a beer festival; it’s a weekend-long party complete with camping, barbecuing, loud music, and vast numbers of otherwise quiet, sober people generally making drunken asses of themselves. Not me, of course, because to the best of my recollection I have never, ever made a fool of myself, and I’m quite certain that all of the stories concerning my behavior during my rare nights of overindulging have been entirely fabricated.

I won’t regale you with noteworthy tales of all of my prior Boonvilles, many of which are incredibly embarrassing either to me personally or to people dear to my heart, but here are a few of the life-changing observations I made at last year’s festival:

Bright, sunny and ninety-five is way better than rainy, muddy, and fifty-five, especially when your friends who arrive first are smart enough and early enough to pick out a shady camping site.
A wise woman drinks beer with breakfast, not before.
Patience is a virtue that women develop while waiting in line for the “real” bathroom when the Port-A-Potties are full.
Patience is a virtue that men develop while waiting for women to emerge from the “real” bathroom.
A man who is so anxious to get a beer that he shoves a woman out of his way has no right to complain when she shoves back. Not even if, in so doing, she spills said beer.
A true friend is someone who waits with you in the line for the Port-A-Potty just to be able to hold your beer while you’re in there.
Plastic cups don’t break with the same joyful ringing clarity as glass ones, but at least no one loses an eye.
It’s rarely worth standing in the long line for that special beer that some brewery always decides to put on exactly at four o’clock, but you’ll be sorry if you don’t do it anyway.
You can’t appreciate really good beer until you have some bad ones.
Caterpillars do not improve the flavor of tenderloin.
Just because there’s a bridge doesn’t mean there’s anything special on the other side of it.
Dancing on the roof of an RV does not make you look foolish. Dancing unenthusiastically does.
Friends are people who can drink with you all weekend and still like you afterwards.
Blessed are they who for once find a quiet camping spot and don’t have to listen to those
#$^@&$! jerks screaming and running around all night.
Everyone looks like crap the morning after a beer festival, either because they drank too much or because you did.
Choose your first three beers well; by the end of the festival, they will be the only ones you remember.