Bloggy friends, I am going to tell you a story. It is a dramatic story, full of thrills and suspense. This is the story of my mitten.
In October of 2009, I suffered one of the greatest tragedies that can happen to a knitter.
I lost a mitten. (Insert “naughty kitten!” joke here.)
It was one of those days when you need your mittens in the morning, but by mid-afternoon it had warmed up enough that I even took off my coat, slinging it over the side of my messenger bag. Failing to notice that the pockets of that coat were wide and slippery. Giving my poor mitten no hope at all.
Even though most days, I took the same route, from school to the train to my house, this just happened to be the day when I walked half of downtown. My mitten could have been in any one of dozens of places. I called the lost-and-found departments of all the places I’d been, but I’d also walked all over, enjoying the warm weather. I wasn’t too optimistic that traditional search methods were going to work.
My friend picked me up for choir that night and I told her the tragic tale of my lost mitten. And then, I spoke the fateful words: “The internet will find my mitten.”
My friend scoffed at me. (Nicely, as she was sympathetic about the lost mitten, but it was still a scoff.) How on earth would the internet find my mitten?
Luckily, since I am an anal-retentive type, I catalogue all my knitting on my Ravelry notebook, so I had a photo of the missing mitten in question. I updated the text on my Flickr page to explain where the mitten might be found. I linked to it on Facebook and Twitter and the regional NaNo forum and the Edmonton Knitters group on Ravelry. I begged people to repost it, to show the power of social media to spread the word.
My mitten began to pop up on other people’s Facebook pages. The link was retweeted. The page views on my Flickr page began to rise. Friends in far-flung places reposted the picture, asking their friends in Edmonton to keep an eye out. My friend Christine, a former Edmowrimo who’d moved to Vancouver, told me that she initially figured it was no help if she reposted it since she’d moved away, but she figured she still had a fair number of friends in Edmonton, and it wasn’t like it could hurt.
The next morning, her sister Deborah glanced at Facebook. It was out of the ordinary—she didn’t usually have time for Facebook before work. But for whatever reason—fate, the gods of knitting, pure dumb luck—she saw my poor mitten’s picture on Christine’s Facebook wall. She set out to walk to the train, resolved to keep an eye open for a lonely red mitten on a cold grey morning. She didn’t know me, even though we lived only a few blocks apart, but she liked the idea of an internet search party. All over Edmonton that morning, people were looking for my mitten.
And then, a note from Deborah popped up on Christine’s post. “Does this mitten look different on the other side? Because if it does, I think I found it by the school this morning.”
I was checking Facebook from class (tsk), refreshing my notifications to see if anyone had news. (You may be thinking that perhaps I am overly attached to inanimate objects. You are correct. Sometimes I get choked up about my car.) I posted a quick reply and gave Deborah my email address, and before long, we’d connected and made a plan to meet up at her office.
Two hours later, my mittens were reunited.
People might tell you that the internet is a waste of time. They might say that social networks are pointless, only for posting about what you had for lunch and complaining about your boss.
But every time I put on my mittens, I think about how they made their way back together. Christine and I only met because of the internet, brought together by the madness of NaNoWriMo. Even though her sister lived literally down the street from me, we’d never met, and if it weren’t for Facebook, we never would have. Dozens, maybe hundreds of strangers looked for my mitten that day, just because somebody asked them to.
So if someone tries to tell you that Facebook is stupid, tell them the story of my mitten. Or tell them your own story of the power of the internet. Tell me that one, too, here in the comments!