Convention of Statesmen

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The Influence of the Internet

In August, blogger, Stephanie Nielson, and her husband were in a private plane crash they barely survived. The virtual community, many of whom were follower's of Stephanie's blog, the NieNie Dialogues, galvanized themselves into action. Those who had been inspired and touched by her journey through motherhood and marriage launched auctions across the world wide web in order to raise money. Others simply posted the need for donations, for the Nielson's medical bills will skyrocket beyond all belief and are certainly in the millions by now.

Stephanie and her husband, Christian, did survive the crash but were horribly burned. Christian has burns over 35% of his body and Stephanie has burns over 83% of her body. They are in the Maricopa County burn unit and progressing as well as can be expected. The prayers and thoughts of thousands are with the Nielson's, all because Stephanie blogged about her life.

I found out about them in a New York Times article by Alex Williams and promptly joined the cause.

I have an acquaintance who was in a private plane crash and was horribly burned. Her life has been a series of excruciating procedures, living with a horribly scarred face and body, and struggling to keep putting one foot in front of the other. My heart literally bled for this young couple and I wept that I wasn't wealthy and couldn't call the hospital and ask for all the bills to be submitted to me. I have only my voice and my pen, but I am fully engaged in not only raising money for the Nielson's, but in picking up the cause of her blog, which was to spread "daily love."

On the Today Show, her family was interviewed:
A community of complete strangers, bloggers, pulled together from the around the world, and NieNie became a living breathing person in the throes of her tragedy. The road ahead for the Nielson's is a long and excruciatingly painful one. But I wonder if they will ever understand the magnitude of the impact they have made on the world by being in love, being married and being parents. Their lives were not perfect, but Stephanie chose to focus on ways to constantly celebrate her status as a wife and mother.

Let's stop and think for a moment: Could we do more good in our blogging if we try to look at the positive side of life? Meaning, life isn't perfect and it never will be . . . not in mortality. Stephanie celebrated life in every possible way, if her blog is any indication, and it is, and she touched the hearts of thousands who have rallied to her cause, and it is my hope that she will continue to do so after her complete recovery.

Mormons are unique in our outlook and thought process, but we are devoted Christians trying every day to be better people and to help others be happy. It's how we're hardwired, and many of us have chosen to do this by blogging, and what should be an oddly solitary pursuit is anything but that. Blogger networks have formed until people who've never met became so closely intertwined in each others lives it is as if they've grown up together. Sandra in Pleasant Grove, Utah could be communicating, and inspiring, daily, via their blogs, with Nicole in London. There are no borders, politicians, militaries or governments standing in the way. Just log on, click, blog and you've touched the world.

Alex Williams, of the New York Times, identified this very thing in his column:

"Sociologists may talk about “weak ties” that bind people on the Internet. But Stephanie Nielson’s story is evolving into one about how the Web can forge powerful friendships. Unlike much of the blogosphere, which is ruled by sniping and snark and where commenters might coldly question the judgment of a mother of four who chose to get in a small private plane, these women inhabit a feel-good corner of the Internet.

"And when one member of the community suffers, everyone feels it." (After Blogger's Plane Crash, Virtual Becomes Personal, Alex Smith, 6 Sep 2008, New York Times)

How strong can these ties become if we strengthen them in reality, as well as in virtual reality? How much of a force can we be, as human beings occupying the same planet, if we join our efforts and make our corner of the world a little better, taking what we learn in Blogland and implementing it in our own lives. Your life has been touched for the better, you are a better person and your family feels the difference. You husband or wife goes to work and is a better person and influences those around them. The children go to school and behave better, wielding that influence into a large sphere. And it all began with two people blogging.

And so we return to the topic of Stephanie and Christian. Their plight has galvanized people from every corner of the world. She touched their lives and made their lives better and now they are returning the favor.

Laura Trujillo of the Arizona Republic wrote of Stephanie: "Sometimes I think I know her better than I know my own sister.

"Nie shared the love letters she wrote her husband, the beauty of helium-balloon wishes released on birthdays and her secrets for keeping the kids entertained on a hot, cooped-up summer day.

"I almost always turned to her blog (nieniedialogues) first thing each morning after I signed on to my computer.

"We live only 20 minutes from each other, but I've never known her. Still, she has become my friend."

I challenge everyone of us to become such a force for good, whether via blogging or in your interactions with your fellow man.

The Influence of the Internet The Influence of the Internet Reviewed by Candace Salima on Tuesday, September 09, 2008 Rating: 5