An End to the Loneliness
My first very own computer was 5$ at a yardsale. It seemed worth the money to pick up the dated junk in someone else's yard just to see if it worked. Maybe I could, at least, play solitaire. It was 2008, and most people I passed on the sidewalk were busily swiping at their IPhones and laptops, but the internet seemed like a luxury to me. Or a place in a library cubicle where you scrolled through job openings, desperately emailing your resume and praying that someone out there in the wireless universe would give you a chance based on black letters on a screen. (“No phone calls please,” most job postings repeat now. No personal contact in this world where our identities seem to be hurtling off and on exits on the information superhighway.) A computer and the money it cost to plug it into the rest of the world was just another expenditure I’d scoffed at in my life-time long list of impossibilities for a “poor kid.”
Back in my apartment I opened the laptop. In the bottom right hand corner a tiny green ball blipped back and forth until suddenly a small message flashed, “Connected.” The clunky, ancient by any tech-savvy standards computer needed no prompting to reach out into space and find any open portal to the internet. The first floor of my building had a coffee shop, which unbeknownst to me had free wireless. Leaving it open for the building was their way of thanking us for the countless coffees purchased and tips left by the tenants. They couldn’t have understood that to me, free internet was like handing me a blank check.
I have been a victim, but I don’t see myself as one. I try to turn each experience into opportunity, and I have dedicated my life to helping others do the same. But there’s loneliness in these experiences. Trauma can make you feel completely separate and strange in comparison to everyone you meet. There’s a silence that stands in the way of shared experience that often takes a tremendous leap of courage to bridge. As I took that first jump into the world of activism, empowerment, and the shattering of silence that had sprung up in the Web 2.0 era without me even knowing it, using my voice felt less and less frightening. Finding productive ways toward empowerment and activism seemed more and more possible. I found other women in their blogs, online diaries, web communities, and on and on. Other women who, like me, have lived a series of personal battles against abject poverty, domestic violence, and the sometimes crippling pain of racism and classism, both internalized and external. Revolutionary change is as close as a few strokes of the keys that could speak our truths and call us to action. There is no more silence in my life. Sometimes my voice reaches around the entire globe. And the voices reaching back to me mean there is no more loneliness, either.