From time to time, we hear people complain about social media. Granted, there are more outlets for sounding off, or listening to others do the same, than we can shake a stick at. I get it. “You really don’t know all those people . . . not really” is one lament. And I guess it’s true to some extent. “I mean, they’re not really people; they’re just a name and a picture” is another observation. But is that really true? Of course it’s not. Some of those “Facebook friends” whose musings, pictures, and other postings that you “like” or “share” virtually daily are people you do know, either from your childhood (some as far back as grade school), or neighbors and relatives you see as often as several times a week, or as little as once a year. But they are real people. And, so are “the others.”
And that brings us to that second category, the one most people think of when they speak of “Facebook friends.” Those are the individuals we have never met in person, and probably never will. They are people with whom we share common interests, such as writing, fly fishing, or cooking (as in my case). I belong to numerous Facebook groups for writers, fly fishermen, and culinary addicts, and over the years I have interacted with many of them, providing assistance to some with publishing problems, and receiving much needed help with fly tying and other issues of my own. They are an invaluable resource, and I’m glad we are “friends.”
One special Facebook friend with whom I have interacted many times over the last ten years is Linda Hawley. Both of us have written many books, and each has provided the other with at least one or more reviews. As publishers, we have exchanged ideas regarding our businesses, and shared opinions about each others writing. Linda lives in Washington state; I live in South Carolina. It is highly unlikely that we will ever meet in person. Yet recently, when I couldn’t find her on Facebook, I was as concerned for her well being as much as I would be for any of the many friends I actually see in person. Fortunately, this story has a happy ending, one that I am pleased to share with you.
The reason I couldn’t find Linda is because I was using the wrong name. Well, not exactly. You see, Linda is no longer Linda. “What are you talking about?” you say. Well, recently Linda decided that she preferred to be called by her nickname, Ell, and, to reinforce that concept, she unregistered the name Linda Hawley with Facebook, and re-registered herself as Ell Hawley. (Kinda has a nice ring to it, don’t you think?) Anyway, I learned of the change when I emailed her, inquiring about her Facebook status and her well being. She immediately wrote me back and assured me that she was fine. But here’s the kicker: Ell has embarked on a lifelong dream trip, a trek she calls it. She’s traveling by car from her home state of Washington across the country all the way to Mississippi, “interviewing people doing good,” and chronicling her journey and sharing her interviews on her website.
If you are even the slightest bit curious, I urge you to join Linda . . . er, I mean Ell . . . on her month-long trek. It’s easy. All you have to do is go to Ellstrek.com and sign up. Once you do, you’ll receive emails each time she posts something new on her website. I’m already following her, and it’s a hoot. One other thing: Ell is real. I assure you that she’s as real as they come . . . and a wonderful Friend with a capital F. Check her out, and follow her trek. Who knows, you might even end up wanting to be her Facebook friend, too. But I’ll leave that up to the two of you . . .