Thursday, December 12, 2013

Not bad for a bunch of internet perverts.

A little over 2 years ago my mum looked concerned at the idea I was meeting a few women for brunch who I had met on the internet. It wasn’t a date; it was just likeminded people, meeting for coffee, because we had got along really well on twitter.
Mum’s train of thought was that only perverts talk to strangers on the internet, how do you know they are really nice ladies, and not creepy dudes? And also, don’t you have REAL friends?
Mum is an accountant. Say no more. < note to self: insert smiley here in case mum reads this>

My train of thought was; these people are AMAZING, and we are so similar. I’ve spent most of my life feeling like the “odd one out”*, why would I walk away from the chance to find like-minded people?
So I went to coffee. I went to brunches. I went to tweet ups, to movies, and music in parks. I helped start an Auckland Feminist meet-up, We started a pub quiz group. I met the most amazing people. People, who don’t like bars, people who don’t like crowds. People I wouldn’t have met any other way, than through friends, or online.

These people were My People. They were Good People. They were broken, and ill and strong and opinionated. They were different ages, and stages of their journey. We didn’t all immediately click, and there were admittedly a few, who once I met them, I realised we weren’t so well matched after all. But mostly, this weird space on the internet that my mother was convinced was full of perverts was a gold mine.
These were my kind of “perverts”.

These perverts had the same kinks as me. It was like being on a platonic dating site full of witty, smart people who cared about the world they inhabited. Who took action for change. These perverts were willing to do a lot of weird stuff with me (like helping the community).
Most recently, one of my favourite internet perverts – Jackie Clark, started calling some of us the #twitteraunties. It seemed at first glance that it was a bunch of friends who enjoyed meddling in each other’s lives and being shoulders for each other. Then things stepped up to another level and the #auntymafia was born. These were Good People who might not even live in the same place, but were willing to come together to make a difference.
Last night some of the Aunty Mafia came together to coordinate, wrap and deliver food, presents, packages, technology collected for Te Whare Marama o Mangare women’s refuge. This wasn’t a spur of the moment thing. We had been meeting to discuss how to help, and the job seemed almost do-able by us on a small scale. We came up with a small plan, and Jackie took it to twitter and started asking for help. For some reason this captured people. They loved it, and wanted to help. Donations and food and gifts flooded in, people involved their corporations that they had links to, and networked among community groups. With enough strong backs, and loving helpers, we were able to harness all the resources available. It wasn’t small scale at all. What Jackie had started was small. What she had grown was HUGE.

I found last night overwhelming for a bunch of reasons. Partly because it felt like an honour, that at what could be one of the roughest times in someone’s life, we were able to make a difference. Partly because for every enthusiastic smile there, ten more people had contributed to the gifts and food we were wrapping. This was bigger than anything I’ve been so closely involved in, and although part of me was overwhelmed, a small voice was proudly chirping up in the back of my head…
“Not bad for a bunch of perverts off the internet”.

Thank you. Thank you all.

Further reading:
Jackie has a lovely thank you at her blog, acknowledging the sheer number of people involved, and saying thanks better than I have words for.

* My old friends are amazing, but we are united by love of each other and lives together, not similarities.