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The Online Mom provides internet technology advice and information to help parents protect their kids, encourage responsible behavior and safely harness the power of technology in the new digital world. Social networking, photo sharing, video games, IM & texting, internet security, cyberbullying, educational resources, the latest on tech hardware, gadgets and software for kids 3-8, tweens and teens, and more.

The Internet: A Portal for the Extraordinary

By Stacey Ross

I am drawn in to learning about and sharing resources that raise awareness of common pitfalls when making one's mark on the Internet, but I have also tapped into a newfound passion for exploring the beauty that resides online as well. A Pandora's box for some, a treasure chest for others, the Internet and its fancy features truly has the potential of becoming a highway to hell and yet also a fountain of opportunity. It's a macrocosm of possibilities!

For about a year, I was co-authoring a book that centered around poignant stories of major life lessons learned on the Internet. It turns out that those precise accounts better served as content for my freelancing and ghost writing projects. Six months after going back and forth with a New York agent, the project was put to rest – and I am OK with that, as what I ultimately gained in that experience led me towards a more fruitful pastime.

The interviews I conducted for the book woke me up to the fact that the impact of misuses and abuses of the Internet can be anywhere from embarrassing to uncomfortable to devastating. Yet they also prompted me to experience fist-hand the insights that I plan to share in upcoming posts: the profound acts and courageous efforts that have been orchestrated by friends, colleagues and work partners thanks to the Internet and its well-designed social networking platforms.

Discover your passion

Since I have resided in this space, I have become more aware and inspired to witness the wonders of humanity. I have come to cherish the reality that the power and voices of the masses can now proliferate so rapidly and spark all sorts of remarkable creations, collaborations, movements and ideas. They might get obscured in the mix of "food porn" and kitty posts, but many go on to make their mark.

After a six year online presence, I appreciate more than ever that blogging is about making genuine connections and then maintaining and growing them. The ultimate value of blogging, I have come to discover, is to embrace whatever source of inspiration or interest that you are moved by and personally express that value from a genuine place inside you. By doing this, your blog can become a passion and even a lifeline for many.

Embrace the communication shift

The opportunities that the Internet and technology offer have changed people's trajectories in many ways – in the areas of politics, e-commerce, education, entertainment, graphic design, marketing, etc.  To have such resources and tools at our fingertips, along with the ability to share information and news so quickly, is a major game-changer in so many people's lives.

Many have discovered a brand new portal for self-expression and intercommunication, and the impact of its power translates to something revolutionary. Collective efforts for change, growth and self-improvement can move mountains and connect people all over the world.

Social networks like Instagram, Facebook and Twitter sometimes get a bad rap, because people tend to highlight the noise and junk they see on the surface rather than dig in and appreciate the ingenious vehicles that they really are. While there are certainly precautions to take, I mostly chalk it up to cynicism and fear of change.

Find the right balance

A captivating post in BuzzFeed entitled The Incredible Story Of a Woman’s Final Months Fighting Brain Cancer as Told Through Her Tweets takes us into the life of a young lady's last days on earth and beautifully highlights a series of tweets that, for some, will hit home more than the impact of an award-winning novel.

Amanda's soulful tweets paint a poignant picture of the impact of her terminal illness, and she made a major statement by leaving her phone behind, only to return to it before she took her last breaths of life.Powerful stuff to contemplate when such rich messages are conveyed in a series of 140 characters.

Amanda demonstrated how putting down her device and living life to the fullest (for a short period of time) enabled her to return to it with clarity and meaning. Talk about a cleansing! We can't help but be reminded to search for that delicate balance between our "real" and virtual worlds.

Make a difference

For 2014, I have been shifting some of my focus to witnessing, highlighting and celebrating the magic that is made and found in CyberWorld, but I'll still allot myself an occasional rant or two! I’ll continue to look for the profound differences that I see people making online. Thanks to the wonder of the Internet, these people's extraordinary efforts tend to take a life of their own online; they tend not to stay buried for long.

I would so greatly appreciate your sharing with me your discoveries and inspirations too.  See you online!

Stacey Ross is an online consultant, social media enthusiast, freelancer and owner of SanDiegoBargainMama.com. A former teacher and middle school counselor, she is now a mom of two who researches and freelances about lifestyle topics involving family and well-being.

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