I remember when the internet was still relatively new and I had only recently been introduced to it. This was in the late 1990s back in college when not everyone had a cell phone (and actually some of the old brick cell phones were still in use), there were no blogs, MySpace hadn't been invented, and it was iffy to buy things off the internet. To say that the internet was still relatively underutilized (compared to now) would be an understatement.
I didn't spend much time on the internet then - just email through my university's system. There just wasn't a whole lot out there and I wasn't particularly interested in exploring the dark corners (of which there were many). By my senior year, though, I started to get more adventurous and go places on the information superhighway. But I was immediately turned off by how impersonal and how removed you were from reality when you were online.
As the years have gone by and the technology has advanced, this feeling has all but gone away. The internet is what allows me to do my job, keep in touch with friends and do most of my shopping. It has also allowed me to connect with other people who are dealing with infertility in ways far more intimate than randomly meeting people and asking for their IF stories. When I first learned that I had infertility, I searched out other women on the internet who had infertility. Unfortunately, the first blog I encountered was the most depressing thing I had ever seen. I was such a novice at that point - we had just found out that I had blocked tubes. I now recognize that reading a blog by a hardened self-styled bitchy infertile probably wasn't the best idea at that point. So, I actually banned myself from looking at infertility blogs and bulletin boards because it was just so depressing.
After my miscarriage, though, after I had that awful experience, my desire to find other women who had experienced loss intesified. When I had my minor melt down before my expected due date, I found comfort and solace online, particularly because I found several women who had miscarriages right around the same time that I had. I was hooked again on blogs and bulletin boards.
The down side, though, is that you become engrossed in everyone else's heartache. I spent 45 minutes the other day reading a blog by a woman who lost her baby at 24 weeks. It was the most heartbreaking thing I had ever read on infertility and miscarriage (and that is saying a lot), but I just felt so bad after reading it. I felt like I was having my miscarriage all over again and the grief just wasn't going away. I hope that she finds peace but I can't bear to follow her blog because her pain is so palpable.
I also lurk on at least one infertility bullentin board and it is also exhausting sometimes seeing all of the pain that is laid bare. But again, where else would it go? It is so cathartic to send your thoughts and feelings out into the internet void, but the confessional nature belies the truth that there are people reading and following and becoming terribly invested in someone else's life whom they have never met. I will still blog for me, but I think it's time to take a breather from reading other people's pain.