I joined Facebook in April 2009. Shortly thereafter, I joined a group called "Writer's Dock Party," thinking my creation and maintenance of this blog qualified me for membership. Another WDP-er contacted me and asked what kind of stuff I wrote. I explained that I wasn't really a "writer," per se: just a writing teacher with a blog that I had started as an effort to "practice what I preached." She asked for the link, I provided it, and, after reading a few of the posts, wrote back with a resounding "Wow." I think she became my first non-relative follower (FOS doesn't count; he's family). A friendship was born. Today, however, came news that Janet Woodard Rollstin ("JWR" to as she signed her comments) has passed away.
It's odd to mourn someone you've never actually met. Such is the nature of friendship, though, in the era of Facebook. No longer constrained by geography, we can now form relationships over vast distances based on affinity--and appreciation for another's support. Indeed, when JWR--a fine writer in her own right--told me she liked what I wrote, it came as welcome validation--even if it did nothing to cure my occasionally inflated sense of self-regard. The sadness one feels at the passing of a virtual friend is a small price to pay for the sense of connection with a kindred spirit.
To Janet's family and friends (both physical and virtual), I extend my condolences. The flag of Solipsist Nation flies at half-mast for one of our first followers and most faithful readers. Godspeed, JWR.