by Karen Hirst

For all that has been written about the downside of Facebook, I feel compelled to acknowledge that much that is positive can also be gleaned by following it.

Such sites can allow for interaction amongst contributors that would otherwise remain unlikely or infrequent. We tend to travel in bubbles of like-mindedness and interest for a variety of reasons, and so we tend to deprive ourselves of new experiences that come through sampling the unknown.

Take the recent post by Allan Brown on the Friends of Mississippi Mills Facebook page, where he invited followers to post an introduction to themselves by identifying how they arrived in Almonte and ended up calling it “home”. From this I saw contributing names of people unknown to myself, people coming from a variety of places, bringing life experiences and talents that can only enhance the life of the community … I thought to myself that Allen’s idea was a brilliant effort towards offering an introduction among citizens bearing handles of the “old guard” and the “new transplants” to get acquainted … if we could only bring ourselves to intermingle among strangers.

Where else might we encounter the magnificent photography of so many camera buffs seeking to capture the natural beauty from one end of Mississippi Mills to the other? The names of Trevor Johnston, Patrick M. Doyle, Jim Irons, Eileen Hennemann, Nancy Munro-Percy, Brent Eades and many others bring regular delight to our screens. The calibre of talent on our doorstep can at times take your breath away.

From a group of local artists known as The Ten Collective, examples of their individual artistic expression using a paint brush are showcased online and we find ourselves enriched through the creative world of the arts as well as being kept informed of their upcoming art shows. Through Facebook I also became aware that one of our new Councilors, Jan Maydan is a painter as well … she enjoys doing churches I believe.

We have had the opportunity to travel across our country and beyond through photos shared with Facebook followers … Rose Mary Sarsfield and her husband Brian take us to some interesting destinations like Iceland and Peggy Byrnes, a lover of all things eastern, packs us into her suitcase on her treks to Newfoundland and the eastern provinces … many who won’t be making these journeys have the opportunity to send friends safely off on their travels and welcome them back home through this unique communication tool.

We share in the sorrows and challenges faced by our neighbours and friends. We celebrate and encourage each other in efforts made towards the good of the whole … we salute our school achievements, their teachers and coaches, remembering recently the accolades directed towards Mr. Rick Lotan for his years of dedicated service as the football coach at Almonte High School. We give thanks to our front-line health providers from Fairview Manor and Almonte General Hospital, Ambulance Service Providers, Firefighters and the many supportive volunteers that turn the wheels of everything in our community … remembering their selfless service for the wellbeing of our communities like that offered by the Pakenham Gardeners and Hub Hospice volunteers to name only a couple from the many.

We announce and promote achievements happening in the “now” and we remember from whence we have come and upon whose shoulders we stand, allowing us to cherish and continue thriving in this place we call “home”. Tales of Almonte by Linda Seccaspina reminds us of the many contributions made by many families throughout the years and that our future rests on the addition of new adventures being created and courageously undertaken.

The are many positive ways that social media devices are and can be wisely used to unite us, connecting circles of friends and family, speaking to the “better angels” of each other and offering encouragement to rise from the heartbreak of suffering and personal challenge faced … unlimited potential exists in the newfound gadgets and programs for communication but with that comes the responsibility of self-policing and making the choice to use wisely towards the benefit and enhancement of the whole.