We sat at adjacent bar stools as we chatted, waiting for his wife to join us. The topic at hand was the value of a fresh start in a new place should you wish to rebuild your life. In his case, a desire for something different had led him and his spouse, sight unseen, to a house about as far from where we sat as mine was, but in the other direction. New house, new city, new start. But there's always the challenge of finding people with like interests, and I was familiar. Not long before they arrived, I'd had my own watershed moment.
The answer, for both of us, had similar factors. I admitted as we sat there that I had come perilously close to leaving Pittsburgh not long before he'd arrived, to the point of having drawn up a list of personal requirements that upon evaluation very nearly resulted in my departure for Columbus. That, of course, is a topic unto itself.
But I stuck around, and things got better for me around the same time he started finding his life locally. We'd used social media as a stepping stone to finding folks with similar interests. Unlike him, it was for me in the place I already did and always had called home. In fact, I felt fairly certain it was how the two of us had met.
Hours later, as I took a break from repeatedly compiling the same software while looking for a bug, a glance at social media reminded me of the rest of that value: in addition to the obvious personal value I'd derived, the accessibility of viewpoints I would not have otherwise had as well as to viewpoints I wouldn't have even known existed clearly offered me a chance to be a better, more empathetic human. I'm not there (is anybody?), but at least now I had the opportunity to try.