Editor's Note: Margelina Redux
Margelina, my long-lost Second Life avatar, has a friend! Her name is TinaLouise Serendipity. I created her because I couldn’t remember Margelina’s password. So they’re more like stepsisters and, actually, they have yet to meet.
With the help of Managing Editor Abny Santicola, I got TinaLouise to the American Cancer Society’s Hope Haven so I could pull an image for this month’s cover. TL is kind of jerky and insolent, but she remained nonplussed as I walked her into walls and made her fly face-first into a roof. She even came out OK after Abny walked her off a pier, dragged her around under water and slid her unceremoniously down the side of a mountain. (If Margelina and TinaLouise ever do meet, I might find myself being brought up on virtual charges of avatar abuse and irresponsible use of the “fly” button.)
But Hope Haven is pretty cool. There are lots of places to click for info or to teleport to other ACS Web sites. TinaLouise was greeted by Poppy, a cancer survivor, who showed her around and taught her to jump railings to get from one floor to the one below it. It was too cool, I’m afraid. The last thing I need is another social-networking site in my life.
Since I wrote a column last year mocking myself for being a Twitter quitter, I’ve added Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn accounts to MySpace in the list of social-networking sites I visit. Within hours of joining Facebook, I had reconnected with dozens of old friends and my “wall” became a scrolling diary of their lives. My current posse found me, and then friends/colleagues from the fundraising sector joined my party, as well.
The ROI on the time I spend on personal social networks is off the charts. I found out about a neighborhood reunion that I wouldn’t have known about otherwise, discovered delightful sides to people I typically only see at conferences and saw a recent picture of my old grade-school crush. Online communication is what we make it — a home for snarky bon mots and quiz results, or a way to connect with people who make a difference in our lives even though we might never see them in person. I opt for the latter.