Online friendships can be superficial and fleeting, so I’m grateful to have found a few good ones.
If memory serves me, I opened my first social media account in 2008. It started with Facebook and I only connected with close friends and family. I was self-employed at the time so my next move was an account on LinkedIn where I connected with clients. Then came Twitter. I started as a lurker, but eventually became part of the #TaxTwitter community (still am, even though my days in practice are long gone). By 2015, I was all in - personal & professional profiles on FaceBook and Twitter, 3,000+ connections on LinkedIn, and I was even on Instagram. Today, I have business and personal FaceBook, Twitter & Instagram accounts. Plus a company Facebook page and LinkedIn company profile.
Then recently, I started to pull back. I loved being able to stay connected to friends, distant and new, on Facebook. But lately, it feels more like people are posting for likes and comments, not connection. It feels more superficial. Impersonal. Performative. Meaningful posts sharing actual personal updates are fewer and farther between.
But recently, that all changed.
In April 2019, I got a Peloton. At the time, I’d heard of spinning but never actually tried it. When my knees told me it was time to stop running, I spontaneously got a Peloton. It was a quality brand and I heard good things about spinning. #Mama_Cat is my leaderboard name.
At first, I only rode once or twice a week. Then, after joining a few Peloton-related Facebook Groups, I was inspired to ride more often. Members of the groups shared ride results and so much more. It felt like a community.
Then someone told me about a Facebook group that organized challenges, where teams completed rides for points. I joined my first team and soon after I was hooked! What started out as a team page to track ride results quickly became an online community that offered a kind of friendship and support I’d never experienced on social media. And out of that team, new friendships formed. There are three women in particular who have become part of my life in a way I never expected. We’ve become known as the #SunsetPosse because we mostly ride together late in the afternoon.
That’s Megan. She is a powerhouse. She is a midwife and has 3 boys, all under the age of 11. She is active in her community and politics - local and national. She cares for her neighbors, is passionate about her work (those mamas and babies are so lucky to have her), and she doesn’t hesitate to help a friend in need. And she has MS. Whenever I feel like I don’t have any energy, she inspires me to get off my ass - no pun intended, given her leaderboard name.
That’s Janet. She is a writer and has the best sense of humor. She lives in the pacific northwest and, even though the rest of us are on the east coast, she still makes time to ride in the afternoon eastern time. She is thoughtful, supportive and encouraging. And she has the cutest dog, Chet. When we adopted Doug (a 3-year old American Bulldog), Chet sent him a wonderful gift basket with yummy treats. He takes after his fur-mom, who sends gifts, flowers and notes for special occasions, birthdays & holidays. She really knows how to make a gal feel special.
That’s Wendy. She is a mother of 5 who has more energy in her little finger than I have in my entire body! She loves life and is constantly on the go. On a recent “vacation” she spent every day exploring someplace new - hiking, touring, exploring and visiting. She doesn’t do anything half-ass. When she is in, she is ALL in. I see gratitude, love and appreciation in everything she does - not because she tells us she feels these things, but because of the way she lives her life.
The Bike That Goes Nowhere
Many people refer to the Peloton as the bike that goes nowhere. But I disagree. The bike has brought people together from around the globe, many of whom have forged friendships, accountability partners and support networks.
Although we’ve never met, these ladies have become friends in every way. We laugh, cry, share outrage, feel joy, celebrate each other’s good news and, when someone is struggling with something, put a hand on each other’s backs. I got a chance to meet Megan in person over the summer. I was worried it’d be awkward, but it was quite the opposite. It felt like we picked up right where we left off on our latest chat.
Next month, we are planning our first get-together in New York City. We were hoping the Peloton studio would be open in time to ride together in person, but that isn’t likely to happen. Still, we plan to pop by the studio to at least snag a group pic to commemorate the bike that brought us together.
Turns out, the bike that goes nowhere is taking me somewhere after all.