Just Like That River: My Online Friend Joel.

Hear them shout across the land

I think I have been trying to collect my thoughts since last night, when I heard that a fellow fan named Joel David had suddenly passed away. We knew one another online, but had never met in person. I suppose I’m still shocked this morning.

We had been in the middle of dinner – we’d started late because of that dreaded Daylight Savings Time nonsense (if you’re on Twitter, you know how much I detest it!). Sure, my clock might say 8pm, but my body says it’s 7pm, and that’s that. Walt and I were still sitting at our counter, watching American Idol (yes, I’ve succumbed) and talking over our half-finished glasses of Cabernet. I saw my phone light up and decided to inspect it. My older kids are far enough away now to where I tend to worry more.(I know I shouldn’t, but I’m a mom. Plain and simple.) I picked it up and drew a huge breath, loud enough for Walt to hear.

Durandy’s news that Joel David had died was bright and easily read – right there on my screen. I re-read his short note over, and over again, because out of everyone I knew of in Duranland – I couldn’t quite believe it was Joel that we’d lost. I would hear from that guy nearly every day. Whether it was a comment on Facebook about something I’d written on the blog, Twitter, or connecting on one of DDHQ’s own status updates – Joel was a mainstay in the community. I appreciated his usually sunny-outlook, and his support.

I’ve seen you on TV

I spend a lot of time online. (Although my phone tells me that my screen time was down 25% last week!) I spend a lot of time talking to people on Twitter, among many other things. It is how I choose to remain connected to the world. Most days – I don’t mind that I don’t necessarily know my neighbors or have friends nearby. I am able to open my phone, get to Twitter, and chat away with people whenever I feel the urge, and I like that. Between my trusty laptop and my phone, I’m pretty set. I’m not someone who thrives by having lunches with friends, or shopping dates – although they’re nice – they’re not a necessity for me. Social media though? Yes, it’s a thing.

I’ve had friends – and yes, Amanda is one of them – say to me that they don’t have time to be online. They’ve got careers and real things to do. They want time with actual people, and I don’t fault anyone for needing that. It is important to have people you’re able to call at 3am that can be there. Online friendships aren’t always the same. They’re not necessarily as deep or meaningful. In some ways, I get it.

It’s true that a lot of my friendships might be superficial. I mean, we chat about a band, so sure, it doesn’t seem like we get into the nitty gritty of politics, or childrearing, or personal convictions (but often times, we do). And no, I wouldn’t call my online friends at 3am. But then again, I wouldn’t call anyone at 3am, except for maybe my mom, my sister, and my kids. From my own experience, good phone calls don’t come at that hour…unless maybe you’re very confused about the time difference. (Listen, my math isn’t that great so….)

Regardless, I get the point. Then again, you’re reading a blog from someone who hates using the phone for it’s originally intended purpose. Just saying.

I know what you’re thinking

It’s true. I don’t have a job, much less a career. I have some spare time (although not nearly as much as one might think) on my hands. While I indeed have some personal thoughts about careers and life-choices that I won’t bore you all with here, I think the main point I want to make is that we all choose how to connect with people.

My path is likely different from most anybody else reading this. Different does not mean “less than”. If you’re looking down your nose at me, or the other people who like being on Facebook or Twitter for the pure social aspect, you should probably rethink your own intentions. I’m happy that I’m online. I don’t look at it as a waste of time at all. It is how I choose to interact with people other than my immediate family. For me, various types of social media have been how I have made, and maintained, 90% of the friendships I’ve had as an adult, believe it or not.

When I first really got involved in the Duran fan community, it was through message boards. I met Amanda as a result of one of those boards. When Twitter and Facebook gained in popularity, I made the jump to those platforms. Then the blog and website came along, and we even still have a message board. (albeit I am hard pressed finding time and remembering to go over there a lot – but I try!) I am on and off of Twitter all day. I can scroll through, respond to things in a fraction of a second, and be off again; even while I’m working with my youngest on her math. You’d think I wouldn’t have to stand over her to get work done, but you’d be wrong. Kids are great.

Two, of a billion stars

Joel is one of those people that I would often see a note, or see a new Instagram post from. He was, from what I knew, a happy guy. He would reach out when he had something to say, and he even checked in with me when I admitted being very depressed last year. I loved seeing his pictures, and enjoyed knowing he was a part of this community. Had I not been involved on social media, I would have never connected with him. For that matter, the same can be said for many of you reading this, or tweeting to me or Daily Duranie on Twitter.

I guess my feelings today can best be summed up like this: I’m sad that I won’t see Joel online anymore. He was a friend, and I felt like he cared. I feel terrible for his friends and family. His loss will certainly be felt by a lot of people. Knowing Joel, I am betting he had absolutely no idea that so many of us would respond as we have.

When she shines, she really shows you all she can

By the same token, I am no longer going to feel less important or impactful because I have time to be online, or because I have made friends this way. No, I am not a big career-person, and that’s hard for me to admit. I wanted a career of my own, but it just never quite worked out. I am probably not changing the world in a huge, noticeable way. However, I have done things to make a part of this world – my teeny-tiny little speck on it, anyway – a little better. More importantly, we ALL have, in ways that are both big and small. We don’t always see the impact we have on others, but I can promise it’s there. Have faith in that, as I try to do the same each day.

I don’t go through life assigning importance to people based on some sort of arbitrary sort of list, pondering over whether or not they’ve contributed to society, or causes, at an appropriate level. However, even if I had, Joel never failed to make me smile. In a world and on platforms that are filled with people so angry they can’t even see the good that is out there – Joel spread happiness. There’s nothing wrong with that in my book.

Her name is Rio, and she dances on the sand

It isn’t lost on me that our Duranie world is the teeniest bit smaller today. Many of us are sad or are struggling. (Shout out to my buddy Alana – I’m thinking of you!! You too Heather – keep on healing, my friend!) Those are healthy and normal feelings to have and share with others. Life isn’t always a bed of roses. We’re not ALWAYS dancing on the sand…but aren’t we lucky to have found a community of people who understand when we do?

There’s always something to be thankful for.

-R


5 thoughts on “Just Like That River: My Online Friend Joel.”

  1. Thanks for your friendship. I love you thanks for you sincere friendship to one Duranie to another we are going to be friends for ever. Thanks for all your hard work

  2. We have much in common and so many of the things you wrote hit home with me. I will feel the loss of Joel very deeply. While I also never met him in person, we spoke several times a week in comments on each others posts or occasionally in private messages. I am really going to miss him. As a collector, I also connected with him on that level of fandom and we often spoke about going to the shows and what we thought about how they mapped out their appearances and how we thought they should make some changes to reaching more of their fans in certain areas.

    Aside from just the loss of a mutual friend, I also have to say I identify with much of what you wrote about being online and having a real sense of community with others on here. While I have some friends in my area, I am a night owl and most of them are asleep when I have time to jump online, like now. I sit here typing @ 1:54am my time. This is the time when I mainly hear from my friends across the pond as they say. Anyway, yes, I was also thinking of how sad it was that our community just shrank by one more. So to all my fellow Duranies who might read this, I send you all virtual hugs right now. We need to stay close to each other when we suffer a tragic loss. The music’s between us.

We (Amanda and Rhonda) appreciate discussion and differences of opinion. We respectfully ask that you fully read the blog before bitching us out. If you're only here to take us down a notch, note that we moderate replies (meaning we're not printing rude comments). Thanks a bunch!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.