I’ve been watching the number on my Facebook page for a couple days now, observing the number of likes ticking upward toward 1,000. And there it is! I think when I first came to Thailand I was around 200, so this is really a remarkable thing for me. What’s more, the number of “likes” I get on fight updates and posts have grown significantly with every fight and the statistics offered on those posts of how many times it has been seen or the “talking about this” next to the number of likes is going up. I am at once humbled and encouraged.
I first came in contact with other women doing Muay Thai through Facebook. I found Sylvie Charbonneau, who at the time was working her way toward 50 fights at Lanna Muay Thai in Chiang Mai. She was very kind to me and offered me advice and answers to my many questions about fighting without having ever met me – simply for the fact of my also being a fighter. She’s the reason I chose Lanna for my trip to Thailand two years ago – if a Canadian woman my same size could train and fight toward 50 fights at this camp, I knew I could too. I also found Amy Davis through Facebook and she and her husband Darrin have been generous in their support, advice and friendship. I knew Stacey Scappecia – who is all kinds of awesome – for over a year through Facebook before meeting her face-to-face when I was matched against one of her students, Min. And there are women who I’ve never actually met in person who I feel strongly connected to through Facebook, who I have had the opportunity to advise (having grown into a position to be able to do that) and give mutual support to each other.
And that’s really what a lot of my motive for having a Facebook Muay Thai page, YouTube and this website is: to be able to have farther reach to other people in the world, particularly women, who didn’t think they could go farther or don’t know that we’re not alone in our experiences.
My first fight was down in Virginia at the WKA National Championships. I didn’t know anybody in New York or the surrounding areas who was doing Muay Thai. But at the event, with hours and hours to kill before fighting, we looked at the line up and saw that all the women in my weight category (and many of the other women at the event) were from New York. There was a whole community of female fighters I didn’t even know existed. (Florina Petcu, whom I’d gotten to know a little on Facebook was there and without a match and she very generously offered to corner for me, because she’s great.) After the fights I enjoyed some networking with other women and their trainers from New York and actually became part of the New York community.
And this still happens. There are people out there all around the world who don’t know that there is a community near them, or for those who really don’t have anything physically near them, that there are people online who can offer a great deal of support in shared experiences. I meet people every week who offer me something meaningful in the way of Muay Thai community and I’m very happy to be able to offer people advice from my own experience when I can. That’s why the “talking about this” number, although much smaller, nearly overshadows the 1,000 likes… because it indicates an active engagement with people’s lives. It’s the “we of me,” that matters.